How to Safely Thaw and Prevent Frozen Pipes

Here are a few low-cost DIY ways to thaw a frozen pipe and prevent them from freezing in the first place.

Next Project
Time

A few hours

Complexity

Beginner

Cost

$20-50

Introduction

If your pipes have extremely low or no water flow, they could be frozen. Here are a few low-cost DIY ways to thaw a frozen pipe and prevent them from freezing in the first place.

Tools Required

  • Cookie sheet
  • Extension cord
  • Heat gun
  • Heat gun or Hair dryer
  • Space heater

Materials Required

  • Electrical tape
  • Foam pipe insulation
  • Heat tape

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

 Find the Problem

  • Look for frozen pipes in areas such as the attic, crawl spaces, outside walls, garage and outside faucets.

shutterstock_469898048-crawl-space-1200x1200 attic ladder

Step 2

Open the Faucets

  • Open all the faucets connected to the frozen pipe, allowing the water to flow when it starts to thaw.

Step 3

Hairdryer or Heat-Gun

  • Apply heat to the frozen pipe with a hairdryer or heat gun, as close to the faucet as possible. (Do not let the water come in contact with the hairdryer or heat gun. Do not use a blow torch.)
  • Use a piece of sheet metal or aluminum foil behind the pipe as a heat deflector to keep the heat contained in the frozen area. A cookie sheet works well for this, too.

Step 4

Heat Lamp or Space Heater

  • Clip a work light with a heat lamp bulb onto the joist next to the frozen pipe. (Be sure that water doesn’t drip onto the hot bulb.)
  • Set up a space heater and focus the heat on the frozen pipe area.

Step 5

Heat Tape

Step 6

Frozen Pipes in Walls

  • Turn up the heat or use a space heater to thaw the pipes in the walls. It may take several hours.

Step 7

Spring a Leak

  • If the pipe springs a leak while thawing, shut off the main water valve until the leak is fixed.

Step 8

Preventative Measures

  • Shut off the supply to the outside faucet.
  • Remove the hose and open the faucet allowing the water to drain.
  • Install faucet covers on all outside faucets.
  • Insulate the pipes in hard-to-heat areas with easy-to-install foam insulation.
  • Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees F.
  • Open cabinet doors with exposed pipes in them.
  • A slow dripping faucet can keep your pipes from freezing.