How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe

With temperatures dipping into the single digits and wind chills dropping below 0, January is proving to be a chilly month here in Hagerstown. Unfortunately, those frigid temperatures can lead to several problems around your house, and many area homeowners are dealing with frozen pipes. While prevention is always the best solution to this all-too-common problem, sometimes pipes freeze despite homeowners’ best efforts. If you need to learn how to thaw a frozen pipe, you’ve come to the right place.

How to Thaw a Frozen Pipe how to thaw frozen pipe

When you have a frozen pipe, you need to act fast to prevent it from bursting. When a pipe bursts, it unleashes a torrent of water inside your home and causes significant water damage. If your water stops flowing during cold weather, you most likely have a frozen pipe. Turn off the water to that section of plumbing or your entire home immediately. This alleviates some of the pressure and could help you avoid a mess.

Look for a pipe that is bulging or covered in frost. Pipes most commonly freeze in places like basements, crawl spaces and garages. If your pipes are not exposed, it’s best to call a plumber for assistance.

Once you’ve found where your pipe is frozen, thaw it using a hair dryer, heat gun, space heater or heat lamp. You may also want to try wrapping the frozen pipe with heat tape. Do not try to thaw a frozen pipe using a propane torch or any other type of open flame. Doing so is extremely dangerous and presents a serious fire risk.

When to Call for Help

Sometimes, frozen pipes can be thawed by homeowners without any help from a plumber. In other cases, though, professional assistance is required. If you’ve been trying to get your water flowing for a while with no success, it’s best to call in the professionals. You’ll also need to call a plumber if you discover a leak after thawing the pipe. Even a drip from a small crack in the pipe needs to be repaired immediately to prevent further damage.

At Larry & Sons, we can help with frozen water pipes. Our call center is open 24/7, so someone is always available to help you schedule an appointment. If you are having trouble with a frozen pipe or you need any other type of plumbing repair, please call 301-733-5428 now.

How to Insulate Outdoor Faucets

Of all the plumbing fixtures in your home, you probably spend the least amount of time thinking about your outdoor faucets. They are easy to forget about, but when wintertime rolls around, remembering to take care of them becomes extremely important. Failing to insulate your outdoor faucets will likely lead to frozen and burst pipes, so this is one maintenance task you definitely do not want to overlook. Keep reading to discover how to insulate outdoor pipes and avoid a serious plumbing disaster this winter.

Insulate Outdoor Faucets in 3 Easy Steps

how to insulate outdoor faucet

Step One: Shut Off the Water

Plumbing pipes that have water in them freeze easily when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Turning off your outdoor water supply valve cuts off the supply to your outdoor faucets, making them less prone to freezing. If you will be heading south for the winter, turn off the main water supply to your entire house.

Step Two: Remove Accessories and Drain Water

Once you have turned off the water supply, remove all attachments – like hoses – from your outdoor faucets. Make sure hoses are empty prior to rolling them up and storing them away from the winter. Once the attachments have been removed, open the faucet to allow any remaining water to drain from the line.

Step Three: Install Insulation

Once the water is removed from the faucet and pipes, you still need to insulate the faucet itself. Covers made from foam insulation are available at any hardware store, and they are easy to install. Simply place it over the faucet and any exposed plumbing pipe.

Insulating your outdoor faucets is easy, and doing so can save you a lot of money and frustration. If you need help getting your home’s plumbing system ready for winter or if you are dealing with a frozen pipe in Hagerstown, the expert plumbers at Larry & Sons are here to help. Call 301-733-5428 anytime day or night.

Dealing with Frozen Pipes? Here’s What To Do! (And What Not to Do)

Dealing with frozen pipes is something no homeowner ever wants to do. Unfortunately, it’s a possible reality when the temperature drops below freezing. While there are several things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing – like leaving faucets drip and installing foam pipe insulation – sometimes, even the best efforts fail.

If you have frozen pipes in your home, don’t panic! Here’s what to do when you have a frozen pipe.

What to Do When You Have a Frozen Pipe

what to do when you have a frozen pipe
Do you know what to do when you have a frozen pipe?

Because a frozen pipe can burst and cause significant damage, we recommend contacting a professional plumber when you’re dealing with frozen pipes. If, however, you’d rather take a DIY approach, here are a few things you should – and shouldn’t – do.

  • Leave the faucet open. As the frozen area in the pipe begins to melt and water starts flowing, it will help melt the ice in the line.
  • Apply heat where the pipe is frozen. Wrap an electric heating pad or towels soaked in hot water around the pipe. You can also use an electric hair dryer or heat gun. Do NOT use a blowtorch or any type of device that uses an open flame.
  • Warm the area using a space heater. If the frozen pipe is in an unheated area such as your basement, crawlspace or attic, set up an electrical portable space heater to warm the area. Never leave the heater unattended, and make sure it’s set up away from flammable materials.
  • Apply heat until water is fully restored. When thawing your pipes, don’t stop applying heat until your full water pressure has been restored.
  • Know when you call for help. If the frozen pipe is visibly bulging, turn off your water and call a licensed plumber immediately. It’s also crucial to call in an expert if you’ve been trying to thaw your pipes yourself and not had any success. The longer your pipes are frozen, the greater the chance of them bursting.

Frozen Pipe in Hagerstown

If you’re dealing with a frozen pipe in Hagerstown, don’t risk a disastrous rupture. Contact the licensed plumbers at Larry & Sons for the plumbing repair help you need. Call 301-733-5428.

Freeze Warning! – How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

This morning, bitter cold temperatures have been breaking records and freezing pipes across the eastern United States. Extreme cold and below-zero windchill factors have been gripping the area recently and will continue into the weekend, with snow added as a bonus.

Protect Pipes from Freezing

For us, this means lots of frozen pipe calls. We have been receiving a huge influx of callers reporting frozen pipes, making it quite interesting to manage them all. In one afternoon, we received over 50 calls about frozen pipes alone!

In this weather, frozen pipes are a serious concern, especially in under-insulated walls, attics, crawl spaces, and basements. So, what can be done to prevent frozen pipes in freezing winter weather and safely thaw them if they do freeze?

We’re going to tell you!

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes:

  • If you end up leaving your house for any reason, make sure that your heat is on and the thermostat is set to at least, 55°F. Don’t worry about the higher heating bill; a burst pipe is much more expensive.
  • Unhook and drain all outdoor hoses and store them. Disconnecting the hose will prevent damage to the pipe or faucet it is attached to. Keep your outside faucet open to relieve pressure and allow any water to escape.
  • Unhook and drain your sprinkler and swimming pool systems as well.
  • Open all of your cabinet doors in your bathroom and kitchen in order to circulate warm air around your pipes.
  • If the outside temperature is consistently freezing, open up all of your faucets a little bit to allow warm water to slowly drip.
    • This little trickle relieves pressure on your pipes and keeps them from freezing.
  • Consider purchasing pipe insulation to keep your pipes dry and prevent cold air from hitting them.
    • This alone will not prevent frozen pipes, but it will certainly help. Both hot and cold water pipes should be insulated. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, making sure the insulation is tight and joints are taped.
    • Your local hardware store will also have something called “heat tape,” which uses electricity (make sure to plug into GFCI outlet) to insulate and heat your pipes.
  • Keep your garage door closed, especially if there are water pipes in there.

How to Locate Main Shut-off Valve:

The first thing you need to know in the event of a frozen or burst pipe is the exact location of your main water shut-off valve and how to turn it off. If a pipe has burst in your home, you don’t want to waste any time Googling where your shut-off valve is. You need to know how to shut off your water immediately to avoid incurring further water damage to your home. \

Do yourself a favor and find your main water shut-off valve now!

Source: homerepair.about.com

The main shut-off valve can be found near your water meter in one of the following places:

  1. In the basement, near the front of the house.
  2. If house is located on a slab, check near your water heater or garage.
  3. If you have looked around your water heater, basement, and garage, but still can’t find the water meter, you’ll need to take a trip outside.
    • Most water meters are actually located outside underneath a concrete box, near the front curb of your house. You may need a “meter key” from your local hardware store to turn the valve, but if it is an emergency a flathead screwdriver and wrench may be a workable substitute. They look like this:

How to Shut Off Main Water Supply

Source: keizer.org

If you still can’t find your main water shut-off, give your trusted local plumber a call!

If you have located the main shut-off valve, congratulations! To turn the water off, simply follow the old adage, “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.” If you have a ball valve, turn it so that it is perpendicular to the pipe. A gate valvev should simply be tightened to the right (clockwise).

Gate Valve v Ball Valve
http://waterheatertimer.org/Repair-water-heater-valve.html

If you cannot turn the valve, do not force it! Either spray some WD-40 on it and let it sit for a little or call your plumber.

Once you have turned off the water, the needle indicator on your meter should have stopped moving, indicating that the water was successfully shut off.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes:

You go to turn on the water and nothing comes out. Looks like you have a frozen pipe somewhere in your house. WARNING: DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME TO THAW PIPES!!

In the event that you are too late and the frozen pipe has already caused a rupture, go and turn off your main water valve!! In most cases, however, the pipe is just blocked.

  1. Leave the faucet open. In fact, open all of your faucets a little bit on warm. When you are thawing your pipes the incoming water will help with the process and you’ll be able to tell if your pipes are thawing if water begins to flow.
  2. Locate your frozen pipe. This may be difficult since some pipes are impossible to reach, located behind walls, floors, or ceilings.
    • Open up your bathroom and kitchen cabinets first.
    • Most likely, the frozen pipe will be located near an exterior wall.
  3. Once you have found the frozen section of pipe, use an electric heating pad, portable space heater, or the more popular electric hair dryer. You can also use towels that have been soaked in hot water. If you have electric heat tape, you can also use that.
    • DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME! YOU MAY JUST BURST THE PIPE THAT WAY, IN ADDITION TO OTHER RISKS.
    • Apply heat until you begin to see water flowing in your pipes again .
    • If you cannot locate the frozen pipe, call your plumber right away!!
  4. Check all of your faucets to see if water is running. you may have more than one frozen pipe.
  5. For frozen drain pipes, pour hot water down the drain until all the ice has melted.

For a recap, watch this video. And remember, basic prevention like insulating your pipes is absolutely necessary in these freezing temperatures!


If you need help finding your main water shut-off or thawing your frozen pipes, give Larry & Sons a call at 301-733-5428.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to schedule your annual heating tune-up. We offer installation, maintenance and repair of boilers, furnaces, heat pumps, and geothermal systems.

With our maintenance plan, we’ll remind you of your annual tune-up, provide 15 % off all repairs, and much more!

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