How To Thaw Outside Pipes

Posted on: 20 January 2015


If you have exterior plumbing, whether it's the pipes going into your home or a faucet for a garden hose, it's relatively easy for these pipes to freeze when the temperatures drop. This is particularly true if you haven't properly insulated them. If your pipes are frozen, it's vital to thaw them immediately. Otherwise they might burst, resulting in a massive leak and serious damage. It's important to note that the following instructions relate to thawing a pipe to keep it from bursting. If your pipe has already burst, you will need to turn off the water supply to your home and call in a plumber, such as, to make repairs. It's a good idea to know where the shut off is before you need it.

What You Will Need

  • Heating Pad
  • Hairdryer
  • Large Pot
  • Oven Mitts
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Towels
  • Plastic Bags
  • Hammer

Step 1. Start by opening any faucets (either inside or outside your home) that the pipe supplies water to. This makes it possible for any water that hasn't frozen to start flowing. When the water is flowing, it will speed up how fast the pipe thaws.

Step 2. Determine which part of the pipe has frozen by very gently tapping on it with a hammer. The part that is frozen should sound dull when tapped. Other sections should make more of a ringing noise. Don't hit the pipe too hard, or you might cause the damage you're trying to prevent.

Step 3. Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe and plug in the pad. Set the pad to a low heat and turn it on. Alternatively, position a hairdryer so it is pointing at the frozen pipe and turn it on. Either of these methods can take some time to work. If you don't have either of these two devices, move on to step 4.

Step 4. Place a pot of water on a stove and bring it to a boil. Cover a pair of oven mitts with plastic bags and put them on. Then soak towels in the hot water and place them in a bag so you can carry them outside. Once outside, wrap the frozen section of pipe with the towels. When the towels cool, take them back inside and reheat them. Keep repeating this until the water starts to flow freely from your faucets. Make sure you have someone standing by the faucets to let you know when they have started to flow again.