This article comes from The Spruce.
Frozen water pipes are a serious risk during very cold winter weather. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and can exert pressure at over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture almost any pipe filled with water, which provides no place for the ice to expand. A ruptured pipe can be a time bomb, since initially there may be no leaking at all since the frozen water may completely block the pipe—until, that is, the ice begins to thaw slightly, at which point you are on the verge of a major flood. There are many instances where homeowners try to escape a cold winter for a few weeks of vacation in a warm climate, only to return to a home that has been devastated by tens of thousands of dollars in damage from water that destroyed walls, ceilings, and floors.
A burst pipe can easily spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, and that equates to enormous damage to your home.
Pipes are most susceptible to freezing when they are located:
If your pipe is frozen but not yet ruptured, you must thaw it right away. There are a few thawing techniques to try, depending on where the frozen pipe is located.
Warning: Never use a blow torch or other open flame to thaw a pipe. This presents a serious fire hazard and can damage the pipe.
A frozen pipe that hasn’t burst yet often reveals itself at a faucet: When you turn on the faucet in very cold weather and no water comes out or it has slowed to a trickle, there’s probably a blockage of ice somewhere in the line. It’s time to take immediate action:
How you thaw the pipe will depend on where it is located.
When you find that the frozen—but not yet burst—pipe is behind the surface of a wall or ceiling, you’ve got a challenge on your hands. You have three options for thawing the pipe:
If the frozen pipe is exposed, such as may be present in an unfinished basement or garage, you have several options for thawing it. Whichever remedy you use, heat the pipe moving from the faucet toward the frozen area. This allows water to flow out as the ice melts.
This is usually the easiest and safest way to thaw a pipe. If the pipe is close to the wall, place a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help radiate heat onto the backside of the pipe.
See note #1: You can use an infrared or incandescent heat lamp. As with a hairdryer, if the pipe is close to the wall, use a cookie sheet behind the pipe to help reflect heat onto the pipe.
A small, powerful heater works great for warming pipes under a kitchen or vanity base cabinet. Direct the heater onto the frozen section of pipe. It will work like a hair dryer on steroids!
There are a few things you can do to prevent the problem of freezing pipes from occurring again:
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