fixing frozen pipes

How to unfreeze water pipes

If one or more of the taps in your home aren’t working and you suspect that your pipes may have frozen, there are many things you can do to resolve the issue.

Before you take any action, always check with your neighbours and see if they’re also experiencing difficulties.

If your neighbours are experiencing the same problem, it’s likely there’s a fault with your supply and you should contact your local water company for assistance.

In the event that your neighbours’ water is running as normal it’s likely that one or more of your pipes has frozen.

If this is the case, it’s important to act as quickly as possible in order to prevent serious damage to your pipes and to protect the structural integrity of your home.

If you suspect your pipes are frozen you should:


Turn off your water supply


To turn off the water supply to your property you must turn off the internal stop tap, usually located under the kitchen sink, and the stopcock in your cold water tank, if you have one.


Protect your possessions


If you keep any precious items or furniture close to your pipes, these should be removed or covered to avoid potential damage should a pipe burst.


Examine your pipes


To check for freezing along the pipes, use your hands to identify cold patches. Where possible compare the temperature of a pipe that you know to be working correctly with the remaining pipes in your home.

During cold weather it may be possible for a pipe to freeze in several places so make sure you check each pipe thoroughly. Pay particular attention to parts that are exposed and uninsulated.

If you’re not confident in checking the pipes yourself, or you can’t find an area that appears to be frozen, consult your local plumbing engineer who will be able to do this for you.


Run your taps


Once you’ve identified the frozen pipe, open the tap closest to it so that the water can run freely once the blockage has melted.


Defrost your pipes


If the pipe and it’s fittings all look to be secure you can begin the process of defrosting. Using heat, either via a hairdryer or hot water bottles, slowly begin to heat your pipe beginning at the end closest to the tap.

Never apply a naked flame, such as a blowtorch, to your pipes as this may damage them and cause a fire hazard.


Inspect your pipes


Once you’re confident that you’ve thawed the blockage, check your pipes for any signs of damage.

If you spot any cracks or would like to have your pipes inspected by a professional, contact your local plumbing engineer.


Turn on your water supply


When you’re happy that your pipes are defrosted and undamaged, turn your water supply back on via the stop tap and stopcock, where relevant. Water should begin to flow though your open tap and return to normal within a few minutes.

Information and other materials on this website are not intended to constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon. Please see our Terms of Use for further details.

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