10 Ways to Act Quickly With First Aid for Frozen Pipes

Mr Rooter Tip Of The Day: When preparing to thaw a section of pipe, keep the affected faucet open to let vapor and melting ice run out.
10 Ways to Act Quickly With First Aid for Frozen Pipes

Pittsburgh, PA (PRWEB) January 05, 2013 -- “If pipes do freeze,” says Beall, “the first sign may be a faucet that refuses to yield water. But all too often, the freeze-up is announced by a flood from a break.” Water expands about 8 per cent in volume as it begins to freeze, generating pressure that splits pipes, especially where expansion is impeded by joints or bends. “Ice may form throughout a long straight section of supply line before it meets and obstruction and cracks the pipe; thus, says Beall, “the entire length of pipe that supplies a stopped faucet should be considered suspect, both for ice blockages and leaks.”

Mr Rooter Tip Of The Day

Tip #1 When preparing to thaw a section of pipe, keep the affected faucet open to let vapor and melting ice run out. Then turn off the water supply once the leak has been located and marked for repairs.

Tip #2 After temporary patches have been applied to the damaged areas, open the main shutoff part-way; the movement of water through the frozen section of pipe will aid the thawing process. The surrounding area should be guarded against water damage in the event that any other leaks have gone undetected.

Tip #3 Electrical heaters of one kind or another are generally safest for thawing. However, freeze-ups often occur during power failures and in such a case it will be necessary to use the flame from a propane torch.

Tip #4 Although usually a preventive plumbing technique, electric heating tape can be wrapped in a spiral around the frozen pipe, allowing about six turns per foot and leaving at least half an inch between each turn. Secure the spiral with masking tape about every 4-inches.

Tip #5 Equipped with a flame-spreader attachment, a propane torch can thaw a pipe rapidly an effectively, but use it cautiously. Place asbestos sheeting between the pipe an nearby framing. Apply heat near the open faucet first, and then work gradually back along the pipe, feeling frequently as to not overheat the pipe. Never let it get too hot to touch; if it gets hot enough that the water boils inside, steam can cause a dangerous explosion.

Tip #6 If the power is on, an appliance that blows warm air – a hair drier or a tank-type vacuum cleaner with the hose set into the outlet end – can be used in the same fashion as a propane torch, although it will work more slowly.

Tip #7 An ordinary heating pad tied around the frozen pipe near the faucet thaws ice slowly but effectively. Leave it in place until water stops dripping from the faucet, then move it to thaw another section.

Tip #8 Tie rags or towels around the frozen section of pipe and soak them with water from a kettle. Continue pouring a light stream of water over the rags until the ice has melted.

Tip # 9 If the suspected ice blockage is behind a wall or otherwise out of reach, set an electric heat lamp nearby. Keep it at least 6-inches from the wall to avoid scorching paint or wallpaper. For greater flexibility in handling, screw the bulb into the socket of a portable work lamp.

Tip #10 Pipes that disappear into the ceiling can be thawed with a heat lamp; hand the lamp directly below the frozen section. Watch diligently for the thaw to occur because water leaking into the ceiling can be a costly repair.

BONUS TIP: There is only one sound way to prevent freeze-ups in an unheated house: drain the entire plumbing system. For pipe protection in other circumstances, choose from several methods – both electrical and non-electrical, temporary and permanent. Hang a 100-watt bulb near vulnerable pipes. Keep a door ajar between a heated room and an unheated room. Set an electric fan on your furnace to blow warm air over basement pipes. Insulate exposed pipes. If no commercial insulation is at hand and pipes must be protected immediately, wrap several layers of newspaper loosely around the pipes and tie with string. And finally, if the temperature suddenly drops and there is no time to install insulation, turn faucets on to a trickle; this will prevent freezing.

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