State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500172
Thawing Frozen Pipes
Water can freeze in pipes that pass through a cold location. Water
expands when it freezes. Unless the pipe through which it runs also
expands, it will burst. Insulation gives a pipe some protection at low
temperatures but may not prevent freezing. To keep a pipe from
freezing, wrap electrical heating cable around it-- one turn every 2
feet--then cover the pipe with insulation to conserve the heat. Plug in
the cable when the temperatures drops below freezing. The same cable
device can be used to thaw a pipe.
There are other effective thawing methods. One of the best is pouring
boiling water over rags wrapped around the frozen pipe. Heating with a
propane torch works quickly, but take care that steam pressure does not
burst the pipe. Do not heat a pipe to a higher temperature than your
hand can stand. Be very careful not to start a fire.
When thawing pipes with a heat lamp, hair dryer, household iron, or
propane torch, always work from an open faucet toward the frozen area.
This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.
With the faucet open, you can see when the ice has melted. Do not use
un-grounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus,
with references from Michigan Extension bulletin Repairing
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educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade
names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those
not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon
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are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender,
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status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and
June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This
information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial
products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or
bias against those not mentioned.
information.was reviewed as
of June 2008. For more information about the contents please
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