If you didn't read my previous article on preventing frozen water pipes you might be dealing with thawing out frozen water pipes by now. Even if you did take all of the precautions and placed heat tape around your pipes, different things can happen to cause them to freeze anyway. If you were not expecting freezing temperatures and never plugged your heat tape in, then you may still have to deal with this problem. Power outages can make your efforts fruitless too. Every winter always check the performance of older heat tapes that may have come in disrepair over time. Either way, if the pipes have frozen, then you will still have to deal with them.

First of all, when dealing with a frozen pipe make sure that the faucet is turned on. By turning on the faucet, you will know which pipe or pipes are frozen. If the water will not run in only one sink, and the others work fine, then you can easily locate your frozen pipe. If water doesn't flow from any of the sinks, then the pipes coming into the house are frozen and you are going to have more work to do. In any case, when water freezes it expands, and this expansion creates pressure inside of pipes. If the faucet is open, the pressure has somewhere to release steam during the thawing process other than bursting your pipes. Just because you may not see any leaks doesn't mean that the pipes are not busted. You will only discover this after the water inside the pipes has thawed. Either way, make sure that the faucets are open before attempting to thaw out the frozen pipes. Open up cabinet doors under sinks so that the warm air from inside the home can warm the pipes quicker.

If the temperatures outside are predicted to warm up immensely and you are going to let them thaw naturally, then don't leave your home. Like I said early, if the water inside the pipes are frozen, then the pipes are not going to leak. If you leave home only to return to discover that the pipes actually did burst, then you are going to have a huge water bill and a lot of structural damage to your residence. This can turn into a homeowners nightmare. Water sitting inside of cabinets can quickly warp the wood and ultimately ruin your kitchen and bath. Not only that, I had a friend that had pipes burst on the second floor of their home, and the water made its way through the ceiling to the first floor. See how quickly this can get out of control. Make sure that you know how to turn the water off at the meter if the pipes burst.

One way to thaw out the pipes is to put heat tape on them. This will thaw them out slowly. Use only the appropriate heat type for the pipe material that you have. Follow the manufactures instructions and do not overlap the tape. This can cause a fire hazard and it can melt plastic pipes.

Another way that you can thaw out these frozen pipes is with a heat lamp, or a hair dryer. Use this items carefully if there is water standing underneath your feet. Do not leave your heat lamp to close to the pipes or unattended. You need to allow the pipes to thaw out slowly. If you remember science class, or you have ever washed dishes, at some point you put an ice cold glass into very hot water and it immediately cracked. Same idea goes for your pipes. Take your time, you will get there.

One other technique that you can use is by immersing towels in hot water and wrapping them around the pipes. This is my least favorite way to do it. Why? Because you will have to rely on the good graces of a neighbor because your water is frozen and you don't have any hot water. Either way this still works.

The one thing that you do not want to use is a propane torch to thaw out your pipes. This is pretty much common sense. Not everyone has common sense or some people may be in a hurry to restore there water service, so unless you want to ruin plastic pipes, do not attempt this. Furthermore, do not use direct heat near gas pipes. If your water pipes are next to your gas pipes then the heated towel method is for you outside of calling a professional.

All in All, thawing out frozen water pipes can pretty much be accomplished by anyone. Always remember to open the faucet before attempting this to protect your pipes against pressure changes. When the water starts to flow, clear the line and then check for leaks. If gas and water pipes run together, call a professional and let them handle the process.