How do you unfreeze pipes?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mightybooboo, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    You can guess it,eh? My pipes are frozen.

    Lets see your best answers,Im all eyes here.:nerd:

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  2. boonieman

    boonieman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    292
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Location:
    Meade Co Kentucky
    I've had pretty good luck using a blow drier (for hair). Depending where it's frozen, I open a faucet and work my way backwards with mild heat towards where I suspect it's frozen. If you can do that a lot of times you can thaw it without the pipe busting.
     

  3. BasicLiving

    BasicLiving Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    639
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    Shenanadoah Valley - Virginia
    What he said. And then we wrap that area with electric tape for the future, figuring it's a trouble spot.

    Penny
     
  4. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,322
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Jack Daniels is my favorite for unfreezing my pipes..... :)
     
  5. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,322
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    But if you are serious a combination of heat trace, insulation and cracking the faucet to keep a little flow going works in the upper midwest.
     
  6. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Did that for HOURS today.Still frozen,and a good section is not accessible.

    BooBoo
     
  7. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    10,153
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Location:
    East Tenn.
    Are they metal or plastic. if they are metal you can hook a pos and neg from a caar battery at each end or for a distance( need long wire) the short will heat up the pipe. if they are plastic I would jus buy some heat tape and pipe insulation and put it on and wait. Do you even know where its frozen at.
     
  8. boxwoods

    boxwoods Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    530
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Central New York
    Well, if you can get to each side of the freeze and get jumper cables and battery. A dead short with the pipe as the connection. But be careful that battery don't explode.

    so red lead on one end of frozen copper pipe and black on the other and hook to a 12 volt battery. the connection will make the pipe heat up and thaw the water. Like stand clear of battery. zap it for 20 to 30 seconds and unhook for a bit and check to see if thawed.

    Next is a welder in the same manner
     
  9. straight shot

    straight shot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    224
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Oh feeling for ya. Been there did that. My first place was an OLD mobile home.

    When I froze up I would open the cupboards under the sink and place a small electric heater on the pipes, for an hr or 2, then I would head into the bathroom and repeat the process. when you have them thawed , keep the water dripping( run into a bucket if you have holding tanks) till the outside temps warms up. Hope this works for you.
     
  10. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Galvanized pipe.I heated all the accessible areas til pipes were hot.
    Tomorrow I will torch em I guess,thats worked before.

    Yep,tomorrow to get a propane torch,and heat tape,and insulation.

    But Im very interested in what others have done.Thawing snow for the toilet isnt much fun.

    I like your battery idea,Im going to file that away.

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  11. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    The frozen area is under the house,in an under porch area and a crawl space,so thats most likely where.Its toasty in the house.

    Should have been more clear,sorry folks.

    Thanks SS,it does stink doesnt it?

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  12. Ford8N

    Ford8N Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    318
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Location:
    Sauk County, WI
    I used a heat lamp last winter. I had one of the big orange bulbs that some bathroom fans use. That worked OK. That reminds me that I need to better insulate that area this weekend.
     
  13. TNHermit

    TNHermit Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    10,153
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2005
    Location:
    East Tenn.
    Just remeber what Boxwood said. just sort it out for a few secs and wait and do it again. Glad he said something I forgotted that part :)
     
  14. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    Is the crawl space under your house closed off real tight? One of our rental houses used to have frozen pipes every winter. The old owner rerouted the dryer vent so the heat goes under the house. When the pipes froze, they would run the dryer to thaw them. It took about a hour to thaw the pipes, but it beat the heck out of crawling under the house to try to do it by hand. During the summer the dryer vent was moved back to the wall instead of the floor, and a circle that was cut to fit was laid over the floor vent hole. We still use that system and it's been working for the past 15 years.

    In my house the pipes frozen once. I put a small electric heater under the house to thaw them. It worked okay, but took a long time for the water to start flowing again, and was really cold opening up the crawl space and crawling under there to place the heater, running the electric cord, closing it all up, then repeating the process after the lines thawed. Made me wish I had the dryer vent going thru the floor.
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Boy,great ideas!

    BooBoo :gromit:
     
  16. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

    Messages:
    25,223
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Location:
    West Central WI.
    metal pipes we used a 240 volt arc welder. Just clamp it on the pipe and it doesn't take to long and a slow trickle starts coming and then the pipe opens up.. But Metal (Cast Iron) pipes. We did this many times a Service Station I worked at. But hen we had the welder there, so it was not a big deal to get it clamp on the pipe.
     
  17. gryndlgoat

    gryndlgoat Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    567
    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Is there any way you can run a strand of electric to it? The plumber that repaired our under-house broken pipe recommended a short run of electric wire and a regular incandescent bulb fixture near the pipe, where it froze. The warmth of the bulb keeps the pipe open. You can place a switchplate at an easily accessible spot so that you don't have to go under the house itself (except to change the bulb once in a while). If you don't want something permanent, I guess an extension cord and some sort of bulb fixture would work too (don't they make things like that for working under cars?)

    This probably won't help until your pipes are unfrozen, but might keep them from freezing up again.
     
  18. straight shot

    straight shot Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    224
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Spinner

    I will tell everyone I know that has water pipe problems about the dryer vent! That is a GREAT idea!
     
  19. George in NH

    George in NH Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    292
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2002
    We had frozen pipes last year. Most of the water pipes run just below the floor of the house. The pipes are covered with insulation. We turned the heat in the house up to about 90 degrees to help heat the floor, turned all fawcets on and then pulled insulation away from where we thought the pipes were frozen and used a blow drier to warm the pipes. Our water was back to running in about an hour. Now we leave the water dripping if it is going to be really cold outside.
     
  20. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,301
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2004
    Location:
    So Cal Mtns
    Motivated,you were right to post it here!

    BooBoo :gromit: