Hints for Safely Thawing Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes are in danger of bursting and causing a serious plumbing problem. Even if a frozen pipe is already damaged, you can save money and trouble by thawing it and turning off the water before the plumber arrives to help. Here are some tips for safely thawing frozen pipes. Safety is a major issue, as many home fires have been started by people trying to thaw pipes incorrectly.


  • Never use a blow torch to thaw frozen pipes! 

This is the cause of most home fires started when trying to accomplish this task.

  • Thaw the pipes as quickly as possible after you discover they are frozen.

  • Leave the main water supply valve open. Incoming water pressure will help remove loosened ice.

  • When thawing pipes, start at the faucet and work towards the source.

Use one of these six safe methods to safely thaw a pipe:

  • Electric Iron — This provides the most concentrated heat to thaw a pipe. You should lash the iron to the pipe with wire (never use combustible materials such as rope or string). Move the iron down the pipe as the thawing begins. Be careful not to touch the heated areas of the pipe.

  • Hair Dryer — Use an electric hair dryer to blow warm air directly on the suspected frozen area.

  • Heat Lamp — Use an infrared heat lamp directly on the suspected frozen area. For added efficiency, place a piece of sheet metal or aluminum foil behind the pipe while heating.

  • Soldering Iron — A soldering iron may be useful where an electric iron won't fit. You can lash this to the pipe in the same way you would lash an iron.

  • Heating Cable — Wrap a heating cable around the pipe in the suspected frozen area.

  • Boiling Water — Pour boiling water on the pipe after wrapping rags around the suspected frozen area. This method is slow and messy and may take many gallons of water. Be very careful, as boiling water can cause serious burns! Be extremely careful when transporting and pouring boiling water.