Thawing frozen pipes

Discover how to thaw frozen pipes, how to identify them, and what equipment you will need to defrost them.

Why do pipes freeze?

Pipes often freeze when not insulated and located outside or in unheated areas of your home.

When temperatures fall below 0oC, these pipes are not protected from the cold, making them more likely to freeze.

Why you should thaw frozen pipes

If you do not thaw a frozen pipe, it will have a higher risk of bursting due to pressure building up inside the pipe.

If you notice any of the signs of a frozen pipe, you should act right away to prevent a burst and water damage.

Signs of a frozen pipe

If it's cold outside and hardly any water comes out of your cold tap, you might have a frozen pipe.

The affected pipe may have:

  • frost or condensation around it
  • a noticeable bulge
  • small cracks - if this is the case, you should contact a plumber.

What equipment will you need?

Before you start, you will need towels and a hot water bottle or hairdryer.

Depending on the location of the pipe, you may also need cable ties, a utility knife and a space heater.

How to thaw a frozen pipe

You should thaw frozen pipes gradually. Heating them quickly will make them more likely to burst.

This process should take between 30 minutes and an hour. If a large section of the pipe is frozen, it may take longer.

Watch our video or follow the steps below to find out how to thaw frozen pipes.

What if the frozen pipe is in your wall or ceiling

If you suspect you have a frozen pipe but cannot find it, it could be in your wall or ceiling.

If this is the case, feel your walls and ceilings to find it - the surface should feel cold if you have a frozen pipe.

Once you have found it, turn up your thermostat and open the doors inside your home so that the warm air can reach the pipe.

You could also use a space heater to apply direct heat to the affected area. Do not leave heaters unattended for long periods as they can overheat.

If you think the pipe is still frozen after this, you might have to use a utility knife to cut into the wall or ceiling. This will expose the pipe so you can apply heat to it.

You should contact a qualified plumber if you're not comfortable thawing the frozen pipe by yourself.

How to prevent frozen pipes

To reduce the likelihood of your pipes freezing, lag the ones that are exposed to cold.

What to do if you have a burst pipe

If you experience a burst pipe, act immediately to limit or prevent water damage.