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How to Unfreeze Pipes

With winter temperatures in Colorado that occasionally reach shockingly cold levels as low as ‑20 degrees, learning how to keep your water flowing is a must. When it gets cold enough, pipes freezing is a common problem, so learning how to unfreeze pipes is critical to the smooth function of your home. Waking up to frozen pipes can mean an emergency call to Cooper Heating and Cooling for plumbing help if you can’t get them unfrozen quickly.

Before you break out the equipment to thaw your pipes, learn more about the entire freeze/​thaw process and how it works with your plumbing. In this blog, you’ll learn more about:

If a few quick tips can keep your water running, it’s worth extra time and attention. Keep reading to discover why your pipes freeze and what you can do.

Did you wake up to frozen pipes?

Contact the Cooper Green Team today for fast, convenient scheduling and friendly service. Our licensed plumbers offer comprehensive plumbing services and can help you thaw your pipes quickly.

Understanding Why Pipes Freeze

Cooper Frozen Pipes

Pipes freeze for the same reason why your freezer makes ice cubes. Still, water freezes at 32 degrees. Water in your pipes can also freeze at that temperature, though it takes several hours to do so. Usually, your pipes don’t freeze because water doesn’t sit in the pipe unmoving for long enough at low enough temperatures. But in Colorado, we get some incredibly cold days and nights, which can change things.

Pipes in your home may freeze when temperatures drop very suddenly, your thermostat isn’t set high enough to handle the cold outside, or your home is poorly insulated, and cold air can reach a specific pipe. Ice has a 9% increase in volume compared to water, which can put tremendous strain on your pipes and even cause them to burst from the inside out. So, if you think your pipes are frozen, it’s important to act quickly to get them to defrost.

How to Unfreeze Pipes

If your pipes are frozen, there are several things you can do to help them thaw more quickly. Start by turning on the taps to allow water to move as soon as you start to melt the pipes. Next, try to find the area of the water line that’s frozen. If you have water running from every tap except for one, you can isolate the area that needs extra attention. Before you start working on that section of pipe, it’s a good idea to adjust the thermostat upwards by a few degrees. If it is set below 70 degrees, you might want to bump it up past that mark, at least until your pipes defrost.

Some techniques for quick defrosting include:

  • Use your hairdryer. Let your hair dryer heat up and apply heat to the outside of the frozen pipes. It will likely take several minutes to get the water running again, but once it starts, you can move on to the next section of frozen pipe. Once the water starts running, it will continue to wear away at any ice remaining.
  • Wrap your pipes in hot towels. Hot towels are wonderful at the barbershop and work equally well to help get your pipes warmed up. Wrap your pipes with heated towels and switch them regularly to keep the heat level high.

When to Call the Professionals

If you can’t find the frozen pipe, that’s a big sign that you might need help from a licensed plumber. While defrosting a pipe is usually straightforward, you need to be able to access the pipe to help it warm up. If the frozen pipe is hidden in an exterior wall, underground, or in another inaccessible area, don’t hesitate to call in a plumber.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

The best way to handle frozen pipes is to not get them. If your home has a history of pipes freezing, it’s time to take some preventive action. To keep your pipes unfrozen and running properly, you can:

  • Insulate your pipes
  • Turn on the water to drip or trickle
  • Turn up the heat
  • Open access panels to allow better heat circulation
  • Apply heat tape
  • Use a space heater
  • Keep attached garage doors closed
  • Install PEX pipes in areas where freezing is common

Some of these are things you can do yourself, and some might require some extra help from one of the Cooper Green Team plumbing experts.

Get Help with Frozen Pipe Prevention

If you want to keep your pipes safe this winter, contact the Cooper Green Team for help with your plumbing services. Our highly trained and licensed plumbers can give you educated recommendations about what to do to protect your plumbing.

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Luke Cooper