If freezing temperatures cause burst water pipes in your house call a plumber because the project requires replacing the pipe or sections of it. That’s a job best left to a licensed plumber who has the skills, expertise and tools to do it right. But a homeowner can unfreeze the water in a pipe if he or she can easily reach the pipe. I know because we’ve had experience doing just that.
Many of the older houses we remodeled were poorly insulated so the pipes were an easy target for frigid temps. At first we used a hair dryer to direct warm air to the pipe to melt the water inside it; then we graduated to a propane torch which worked faster, but was dangerous. A heat gun is our tool of choice but we use it with care and caution. The danger is you can easily singe a surrounding cabinet, wall or floor (or yourself) and cause more damage.
In a kitchen or bathroom faucet with a frozen pipe you first have to empty the cabinet to get access to the pipe and then sit/kneel/lay in position to direct the heat to the pipe. Work from the faucet end of the pipe with the faucet(s) open so if any pressure builds up from overheating it can be released out the faucet. This can be difficult and uncomfortable especially when you have to hold the tool for an extended period of time.
Don’t forget to remove the aerator on the end of the faucet. Once while Gene was under our house heating a frozen pipe below the kitchen I was in the kitchen with the faucet open waiting for the water to start flowing. We couldn’t imagine why it was taking such a long time. Gene called up and said “See if the aerator is clogged,” and sure enough as soon as I unscrewed it the water flowed. We figured that as the water in the pipe melted it dislodged some of the minerals and scale in the old iron pipes which got clogged in the aerator. Lesson learned. Here’s how much it costs to Unfreeze frozen water pipes.
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