Cold weather can give homeowners all kinds of headaches. One of the worst is getting frozen pipes and it is important to learn how to defrost them if that happens.
When winter hits the temperatures drop so low and it gets so cold out that both metal and plastic water pipes can burst if allowed to freeze. If you live in a cold area you need to learn how to defrost your pipes and prevent them from freezing in the first place. Once a pipe does freeze over there is very little you can do other than slowly try to mitigate the damage that will be done.
If you think your water pipes have frozen over the first step in learning how to defrost your pipes is to test the situation. Open up all of the faucets in your home to see where water is and is not running. If water is coming out of a few faucets and not out of others than you can start the process of elimination in determining what pipes have frozen over and which pipes need to be defrosted.
If you have a basement or crawl space you need head there and start to follow the paths of the pipes that are no longer running water. Try to find where they travel and discover where the pipes might be exposed. By exposed, I mean pipes that are not insulated or run in areas in which the walls are insulated which results in the pipes being exposed to colder conditions. The process of learning how to defrost your pipes is a matter of slowly identifying the issue and then correcting, but the first step is understanding the problem.
Now that you have identified the frozen pipe there are a few things you can try. The easiest option is that if the frozen pipe that needs to be defrosted is a hot water line, then simply leave your hot water faucet on for a while and eventually the hot water running in your pipe might defrost the pipe and breakthrough. Even in the case of a cold water line that has become frozen, leave it running. Cold water, while cold, is warmer than freezing so will work to defrost the pipe as it runs against it.
If you have found the exact part of the pipe that is frozen or at least a general area where there may be a problem area in your plumbing, you can try to warm up the pipe yourself slowly over a period of time to avoid the pipe bursting. Some options to warm up a frozen pipe include using a hair dryer or even a towel that is soaked in hot water. If you have a space heater available, try running it near the area and over time will defrost your water pipe to allow the water to run freely again without causing damage to your plumbing.
Once you have resolved the problem and learned how to defrost your pipes in the winter you need to ensure no damage was done. Just because water is running now to your faucet doesn't mean a leak wasn't created. Let your faucets run for a while and investigate the pipes that had frozen water in them. Look for small leaks or puddles forming after thirty minutes to one hour. Listen for hissing sounds near walls where the pipes run into or water damage showing through drywall. Not all pipes are visible so be conscience of where the pipes run when trying to ensure no damage resulted in having frozen pipes and getting them defrosted.