How to unfreeze pipes

In order to thaw a frozen pipe, you must first determine which pipe or pipes are frozen. To do this you need to open the taps on the sinks etc, if no water comes out, or only a slight trickle escapes, then a pipe leading to it is likely to be frozen.

If the pipes are exposed, such as pipes under sinks, in basements or along the exterior of the house, you may be able to see the frozen portion of the pipe. Frozen pipes often have frost on them or may have a slight bulge. If the blockage is located in part of the pipe that you have access to, you will have more options for easily thawing the pipe than if the frozen portion is enclosed behind a wall.

How can I defrost the pipe safely?

  • Hair dryer: Usually the easiest and safest way to thaw a pipe.
  • Hot towels: Another way to thaw a frozen pipe is to wrap towels that have been dipped in hot water around the pipe. This can help to slowly thaw the blockage.
  • Portable heater: A small, powerful heater works great for warming pipes under a kitchen or vanity base cabinet. Direct the heater onto the frozen section of pipe.
  • Turn the heat up in the property: You can attempt to thaw the frozen pipe by increasing the temperature in the property. Turning the thermostat up may be all that is needed to allow the ice blockage to melt.

Please don’t leave any electrical devices unattended whilst defrosting any frozen pipes and only do so indoors. When the pipe has thawed out, there may be a rush of water, so it’s a good idea to have a bucket nearby just in case.

What can I do if I can’t access the pipe?

If you are not able to identify where the frozen blockage is, you may have to access it by cutting into plasterwork or plasterboard. If this is required we would recommend that a professional contractor is contacted.

If the worst does happen – what should I do?

  • Turn off the internal stop tap
  • Try and block the escaping water with towels
  • Open taps to reduce the water pressure
  • If possible catch water in buckets
  • Remove any furniture from the area affected
  • Contact a qualified Plumber as quickly as possible
  • Call us on 0345 601 7072. Lines are open Monday–Friday 8am–8pm, Saturday 9am–4pm.