Safe ways to thaw frozen pipes

Frozen pipes are a major nuisance in this frigid cold, and they’ve become dangerous as well. The Hutchinson fire department says a woman and six children escaped from their home during a fire overnight , which the department believes was caused from thawing frozen pipes. It’s the 2nd fire of this type in Hutchinson, in as many days.

So what can you do to safely thaw your frozen pipes? We asked Seth Harrington, a licensed plumber with Reddi Industries.

“The first thing you want to do is open up the faucets,” Harrington says. “Obviously you are not going to have water coming out, so once you see that, open up the faucets.”

This is a key step. As soon as you see any water begin to come through the faucet, you’ve done enough to thaw the pipe. Harrington says water flow is the best thing to thaw anyway, so when some begins to come through, you should have a steady stream in no time.

As for the safe ways to thaw the pipe, Harrington says a common hair dryer is best. And it’s simple.

“Turn your hair dryer on, and don’t leave it sit in one place” Harrington explains. “Make sure you move it up and down.”

And don’t just leave the dryer on and walk away. Always hold it and keep it moving.

Harrington says a hot towel isn’t the most effective, but can be used if the frozen area is very small, which would be uncommon.

Another popular method is placing a space heater in the area near the pipe. Harrington prefers ceramic or infrared heaters. But no matter what the type, don’t just leave it running in the room unattended.

“You always need to monitor what you install,’ Harrington says. “What you use. Keep an eye on it. Check it and make sure it is never left alone.”

The real danger in thawing pipes comes when open flames, or torches, are used. Something Harrington rarely endorses someone to use in a home. It’s what a professional might use for a complicated job, but even then it’s dangerous.

“We have to be careful, even as a company of not starting a fire,” Harrington warns. “They are extremely dangerous. They put out so much heat.”

If you can’t get the pipes thawed using one of the safe methods, it’s likely time to call a professional to come in and help.

“The sooner you can get the freeze taken care of, the less damage to your property,” Harrington says.

“The longer the pipe stays frozen, the higher chances for a burst or break, which causes massive damage and causes even higher plumbing bills.”