Bob Vila Radio: Thawing Pipes

By Sarah Monzon & Bob Vila | Updated Dec 18, 2012 6:12 PM

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Frozen pipes that burst and cause water damage in your home can happen in all but the warmest areas, and often when you least expect it. Here’s what to do if it happens to you.

Burst Pipe



Listen to BOB VILA ON FREEZING PIPES or read the text below:

If you find that a pipe in your home is frozen, do not ever attempt to thaw it with a blowtorch. This method has been used, for reasons I can’t explain for years, and it causes house fires, plumbing damage, and bodily harm every year.

If the situation is still dry, you’ll have better luck thawing the pipes with a hand-held hair dyer, slowly working your way back from the open faucet towards the frozen spot. It’s actually not the ice in the pipe that bursts it, it’s the water pressure that builds between the freeze and the faucet, so be sure you open the faucet before anything else.

If the pipe has already burst, shut off the main water valve to your home and call a plumber right away. And replace the burst plumbing with flexible PEX tubing this time to avoid a repeat.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.

For more on winter maintenance, consider:

Everything You Need to Know about Winterizing Pipes
11 Ways to Winterize your Home on a Budget
10 DIY Pipe Fitting Projects