Do you have frozen water pipes underground? On a cold day, you might wake up and find that when you turn on the faucet, there is no water in the faucet, even though it is still running.
Of course, this can cause a lot of discomfort and stress in your household while you wait to shower, cook, and clean as usual. In some cases, it may be necessary to wait for city hall action, depending on where the problem is. However, you can take matters into your own hands and thaw your frozen water line.
This article covers your water supply line, which is an underground pipe that leads to your home, andNOa frozen sewer pipe or other indoor plumbing in your home.
In this PlumbingNav guide, we cover:
- How to thaw frozen pipes underground
- Homemade way to thaw frozen water supply lines to the house
- Accessory for thawing a frozen section of water pipe
- How to thaw frozen underground pipes: public water and private wells
|What does this guide say?|
How to thaw frozen underground pipes
Your underground water supply lines bring water to your home from your home's water source, either from the city or from your own well.
freezing tubesThis can happen when temperatures drop below freezing, which they do across the country. Southern states (and Hawaii), which freeze less, can be even more prone to frozen plumbing in cold weather, as many homes are not as prepared for it as homes in the north.
How to identify frozen utilities
Thawing tubes quickly can prevent costly damage. When temperatures reach freezing, be on the lookout for warning signs.
Signs of frozen supply lines are:
- freezing temperatures
- Low or no water pressure on all fittings
- Ice on your faucets
- strange smells
Dangers of frozen pipes
If the supply lines get too cold, the indoor water will freeze. Ice prevents water from reaching your home to the point where you can no longer get water.
As we learned in science class,Water expands when it freezes. When water turns to ice and fills your supply line, it can expand enough to burst a water line.
Avoid frozen tubes
We'll deal with underground pipelines in a moment. However, you can alsoPrevent tubes from freezingbefore they happen, with these simple tips:
- Set the temperature in your home to 55°F or higher when you're away for the day or on vacation
- If necessary, properly insulate your basement
- Secure or turn off external faucets
- Insulate all exposed piping
This will help dispose of frozen pipes in your home that are restricting water. For hose nipples, consider installing aFreeze-proof faucet for outdoor use.
Let us now discuss how to thaw frozen outdoor and underground water pipes that supply water to your home.
Homemade way to thaw frozen water supply lines to the house
In many cases, you can thaw frozen underground pipes yourself. However, you should know that laws can limit your options, and the job is not for beginner plumbers.
- Check the laws in your area to make sure you have the right to work on public service lines. You may need to hire professional services or obtain a permit to do the work yourself if you are removing a water meter to gain access.
- Locate the main shutoff valve for the water supply and turn off the water at the source (consider installing a backup shutoff valve, as ingress of water can cause serious water damage).
- Check with your insurance company to make sure you're covered if something goes wrong.
- Never use an open flame (such as a torch) on your pipes.
- Be careful with electrical appliances near electricity.
Okay, now that the lawyers are satisfied, let's get down to the details.
Supplies needed to thaw a frozen aquifer
An electric water pump allows you to force water into your supply line. You need an energy source. A "pond pump" should provide the perfect amount of power for that specific job.
You need a non-frozen hose. we suggestPEX-RohrÖPVC Rohrthanks to its flexibility and economy, but you can also use a nylon hose.
You may need an adapter to connect the hose to the pump and water supply. Check the connections of both devices and buy an adapter if needed.
You'll need a tall container that's at least 5 gallons to catch the ice cream as it melts.
Some people try thermal tape, an electric heater, or a hair dryer to thaw the tubes.
While sometimes effective, they don't penetrate deep into your plumbing system.
Short overview of the shopping list:
Here are the above products in list form. Please note that the size of the flexible pipe and fittings need to be adjusted according to the size you need in your house. This is an example setup, but be sure to check your own measurements.
Here are some materials to point you in the right direction and make it easier:
How to thaw frozen underground pipes: public water and private wells
At this point you really need to watch a video to get the full picture. Here are 2 videos depending on your water source:
city water:How I Thawed a Frozen Ground Water Supply Line from the Street to My Home
Brunnenwasser:Do It Yourself - Quickly Thaw Your FROZEN Water Pipes
Here are the steps you need to follow fully outlined...
Step 1 - Turn off the water
Turn off the water in your main water supply!
Failure to do so could result in water entering your home and causing serious water damage.
We recommend taking an extra step of caution by adding a backup isolation valve to your system in case something goes wrong the first time (the damage can be devastating).
Step 2 - Access your mainline
After turning off the water supply, access the main line.
In a home that gets city water, you can access your main line by removing the water meter. *Make sure you have permission to do so as per city code.
In most homes that use well water, you can access the mains through the basement or garage, although this can vary.
Step 3: Insert the hose into the main line
If you have access to the main line through an exposed pipe, insert a hose into the pipe.
It stops feeding the hose as soon as it hits the ice blockage.
Step 4 - Connect to pump and place pump in bucket
Once you reach the blockage, connect the hose to a small electric pump (which won't be damaged if it comes into contact with water).
Place the pump in a 5 gallon (or larger) bucket.
Step 5: Activate the bomb
At this point you can activate the bomb. It will push water into the system and thaw the ice.
It doesn't matter if you use hot or cold water. Pressure melts ice regardless of temperature.
Be careful not to overfill the bucket.
This may take a while! One person claimed it took 12 hours. Be patient.
You know the job is done when there's no more water melting in the bucket.
Special considerations for thawing frozen water in city water
If you get city water, you are more likely to follow regulations.
first you mustDetermine responsibility for the frozen tube, which may vary from place to place. In many locations, the city takes responsibility if the pipe freezes beyond the curb, but you are still responsible for everything before that point. Check with your municipality for exact details.
You may not be allowed to work on a frozen pipe. Check with the city hall what you can and cannot do.
Finally, check with your insurance company to see what is covered. You can cancel yourinsurance claimwhen you're working on frozen pipes instead of the insurance company paying a plumber to do the job for you.
Tips for thawing frozen aquifers in well supply lines
Getting water from a well gives you more control over what you can do.
You don't need to ask the city for permission to work on a frozen pipe, but they aren't responsible for frozen pipes either.
Final thoughts on thawing frozen underground pipes
A frozen underground pipe can result in long waits for water to reach the tap during prolonged subzero temperatures. It can often prevent the tubes from freezing, leading to a ruptured tube in the tube.withinoutside your home when it reaches freezing temperatures. However, frozen ground outdoors can affect utility lines.Beforethe water comes to you.
We hope this guide has helped you get hot and cold water in your home before waiting for the blockages to melt on their own.
Be aware that this process of opening and accessing the water lines will draw air into the plumbing system. You will experience a “snap” for a few hours. To speed up the removalAir trapped in your water lines, go to the faucets and toilets and let them run for a few minutes. That should resolve the issue.
Did not work? If your underground pipes have been damaged by ice, you may need acamera finder. If you need to replace an underground inlet or outlet pipe that is out of your reach, read about ittrenchless pipe rehabilitationbefore accepting repairs. This can save you a lot of money, but not all installers offer it.Find one that does.
FAQs for thawing frozen groundwater pipes
How long does it take for buried pipes to thaw?
Frozen pipes can take a long time to thaw (up to 12 hours). Be patient and be prepared to go without water for most of the day.
At what temperature do underground pipes thaw?
Tubes thaw naturally when temperatures rise above the freezing point. In addition, the area of frozen ground around the frozen pipe will contribute to the natural melting taking longer.
Can I wait for frozen tubes to thaw?
Possibly, but if the weather forecast calls for cold temperatures for an extended period of time, you might not want that. Your family needs adequate access to water right away, and sanitation companies are often in trouble.
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In most cases, you can unfreeze a frozen drainpipe by pouring hot water down it. Fill a pot with a half-gallon of water, and heat it on the stove. When it begins to boil, carefully remove it from the stove and slowly pour it down the drain. This may be enough to thaw the ice and completely clear your drain.How do you thaw an underground drain pipe? ›
In most cases, you can unfreeze a frozen drainpipe by pouring hot water down it. Fill a pot with a half-gallon of water, and heat it on the stove. When it begins to boil, carefully remove it from the stove and slowly pour it down the drain. This may be enough to thaw the ice and completely clear your drain.How long does it take for underground pipes to thaw naturally? ›
If you wait for your pipes to thaw naturally, it can take hours, days, or even weeks before the temperature outside increases enough to fully unfreeze the pipes. Anticipating this change can be difficult and frustrating, especially if there are frequent weather shifts.What is a home remedy for frozen pipes? ›
Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen.
This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad around the pipe, heating the area with a hair dryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well.
Your pipes will eventually begin to thaw on their own once the temperatures rise above freezing. As they do so, you may begin to hear your pipes making gurgling, clanging, or banging sounds as the ice begins to move. The hot water heater may do the same.Can you let frozen pipes thaw on their own? ›
Frozen pipes may thaw on their own, but not without substantial damage. Letting your pipes thaw on their own may result in major water damage and broken plumbing. Rather than learning how to let your frozen pipes thaw, it's smarter to learn how to prevent them from freezing in the first place.How long does it take for underground water pipes to thaw? ›
How long does it take for pipes to unfreeze? Using any of the handful of methods to thaw frozen pipes will typically take about 30 minutes. This can vary depending on the weather, how long the pipe has been frozen and where the pipe is located. Any of these factors can cause the thawing process to take longer.Can you pour hot water down drain to thaw pipes? ›
Never pour hot water on frozen plumbing or try to thaw pipes with a blowtorch. The hot water usually freezes on the outside of the pipe, and the torch can cause frozen pipes to explode if steam is produced. Also, do not strike pipes in an attempt to break up the ice, as hammer blows can cause pipes to crack.At what temperature do underground pipes freeze? ›
The temperature of the pipe
If the temperature falls to 32 degrees or lower, your pipes are likely to freeze.
Here is what you will need to thaw the frozen pipe:
- 1 cup of salt.
- 1/2 cup baking soda.
- 2-3 gallons of water.
- 1 cup white vinegar.
- a medium sized pot.
It's best to thaw out pipes slowly, with hot water bottles or towels soaked in hot water. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch to thaw the pipe – as direct heat may cause permanent damage to the pipes and could also lead to a fire in the home.What does salt do to frozen pipes? ›
Pour salt down frozen drain
Salt lowers the melting point of ice. Start with pouring a tablespoon of salt down the drain and then give it a few moments to start working.
Frozen pipes are a big problem. Not only can they stop your heating and hot water from working properly, they can also burst – causing leaks, or even flooding. So if you think your pipes have frozen over, you'll need to act quickly to prevent any further damage.How much does it cost to have someone unfreeze pipes? ›
The average hourly plumber rate is around $330, depending on where you live and the size of your job. As long as your frozen pipes haven't burst, a plumber will likely charge a flat fee of around $100 to thaw them out.How many days can pipes stay frozen? ›
Pipes are most likely to burst when exposed to below-freezing conditions for six hours or more, which can happen throughout winter and early spring.Can water pipes freeze underground? ›
Even buried, underground water pipes are subject to freezing. Problems usually arise when soil in new water line trenches has not fully settled, or when earthwork or construction above the pipeline removes too much soil or replaces soil with materials like concrete that conduct heat away more easily.Do plumbers Unthaw frozen pipes? ›
If the pipes have frozen and burst, a plumber can fix them. If the pipes are frozen but have not burst, a plumber can remedy them by applying a heat gun to thaw them. For an interim solution, a homeowner could use a hair dryer to start the thawing process.Will PVC pipe freeze underground? ›
For PVC piping systems that are buried underground, sunlight won't be a problem, but debris, soil movement, and freezing temperatures may be. The debris and rocks that are underground with your pipes can lead to friction, which can cause damage to PVC pipes.Why do pipes burst after thawing? ›
When water freezes, it expands. When water freezes inside pipes, it increases the pressure inside the pipe and can cause a blockage within the pipe. Surprisingly, it's actually the thawing process that can cause a pipe to burst.Will boiling water burst a frozen pipe? ›
Never pour boiling water into a frozen pipe!
If it thaws too quickly it will break. The quick change between hot and cold water will cause them to burst if they haven't already. You can use a heating pad, warm washcloth, hair dryer or a space heater.
Tip #9: Hot Water and Salt Can Thaw Drainpipes
While we didn't have any issue with our drainpipes, our plumber also gave us this tidbit of advice: If your drain pipes freeze, boil a kettle of hot water. Stir a cup of kosher salt into the hot water, then pour the concoction down the frozen drain.
The leading product for underground use is Armaflex Tuffcoat. This industry leading underground insulation is based on Armaflex Class O Nitrile Foam insulation which has an additional wrap-around self-seal plastic coating. This makes the product very easy to install.How deep do you bury water lines so they don't freeze? ›
2. Water service piping that is installed exterior to a building and underground must be buried at least 12 inches (305 mm) below grade or 6 inches (152 mm) below the established frost penetration depth for the geographic area [see Commentary Figure 305.4(5)], whichever is the greater depth.Can you use heat tape underground? ›
A – Yes. The EXT-R system (along with Paladin and EXT-T) is certified for both direct burial and wet locations as a result of the proprietary end-seal termination.Can pipes freeze in a slab foundation? ›
If you have a slab on grade foundation, your pipes will be more than six inches below ground. Heat from the ground and from the house will keep the temperature of the soils under the foundation above freezing. You do not need to worry about freezes affecting your underground pipes.Can underground sewer pipes freeze? ›
Sewer lines can freeze, even if they are buried below the frost line. Extremely cold weather can send ice into drain systems. If left unused, without warm wastewater flowing through sewer lines, the pipes can freeze and burst.Will baking soda and vinegar unfreeze pipes? ›
Pour one cup of vinegar down the pipe immediately after putting baking soda. Vinegar reacts with soda, causing it to sizzle and bubble. This solution will agitate frost build up and slowly start to clear your frozen shower drain.How long should it take to thaw frozen pipes? ›
Be prepared to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes. When the pipe begins to thaw, water will start flowing at a faster rate through the open faucet. Even after the water pressure is fully restored, it's recommended to keep the heat on the pipe to ensure the ice in the line is completely melted.Does Epsom salt melt ice? ›
Epsom Salt: Epsom salt isn't as harmful to plants or vegetation as rock salt (or table salt). You may already have some on hand from the garden. It is an abrasive and melts ice slowly. To speed up your Epsom salts' melting power, combine sugar and Epsom salt in a 1:1 ratio.What can you pour down the drain to melt ice? ›
The best way to do this is to take a handful of table salt and pour it into the drain pipe, then swiftly add some boiling water to the drain. You can also dissolve the salt in the boiling water beforehand and then pour this mixture into the drain pipe. What is this?
If the temperature falls to 32 degrees or lower, your pipes are likely to freeze.Can underground water lines freeze? ›
Even buried, underground water pipes are subject to freezing. Problems usually arise when soil in new water line trenches has not fully settled, or when earthwork or construction above the pipeline removes too much soil or replaces soil with materials like concrete that conduct heat away more easily.How long does it take underground water pipes to freeze? ›
The rule of the thumb is that it takes roughly 6-hours for water in your pipe to freeze after left in an unheated area. Meaning if you lose power at your home and the weather is reaching below freezing point, you have approximately 6-hours until the pipes will begin to freeze.Will underground PVC pipes freeze? ›
Pipes made of copper, steel, PVC, PEX and other plastics are all susceptible to freezing, with copper being the most vulnerable to ruptures when frozen. PEX, PVC and other plastics will freeze but do not always burst.How long does it take for pipes to unfreeze? ›
Be prepared to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes. When the pipe begins to thaw, water will start flowing at a faster rate through the open faucet. Even after the water pressure is fully restored, it's recommended to keep the heat on the pipe to ensure the ice in the line is completely melted.How deep to bury water lines to keep from freezing? ›
The International Plumbing Code states that “Exterior water supply system piping shall be installed not less than 6 inches (152 mm) below the frost line and not less than 12 inches (305 mm) below grade.” Above the frost line, the ground can heave up, shifting whatever is in it, or freeze the pipes' contents.How do farmers keep their water from freezing? ›
Insulate Your Tanks And Waterers
One of the simplest ways to prevent livestock water from freezing is insulation. If your watering system relies on a tank, be sure one of the first things you do is insulate it.