- If water isn’t running anywhere in the house, a pipe near the water meter may be frozen. Touch the meter and the adjacent exposed pipes. If they are very cold, they are probably frozen.
- If water runs in only one part of the house, a pipe in an outside wall or un-insulated crawl space is probably frozen. Open kitchen and bathroom sink cabinets to allow warm air from the house to warm the pipes.
- Once you’ve found the frozen pipe, open the affected faucet all the way, and open other hot water faucets in the house. When the water is flowing in the affected pipe, close all the faucets to a trickle. Do not close the affected faucet until the pipe is completely thawed and the water flowing freely.
The safest – and neatest – thawing methods involve a gentle heat source hair dryer, heat lamp, or household iron. A propane torch or other open flame will heat the pipe too quickly and may cause it to explode. Some people recommend pouring boiling water over rags wrapped around a frozen pipe. The obvious drawback is that this method is messy. Never pour boiling water directly onto a frozen pipe.
When thawing pipes with a heat lamp or hair dryer always work from an open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe. With the faucet open, you can see when the ice has melted. Do not use un-grounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
- Turn on the water fixtures in various parts of your home to identify the one(s) that do not work. Water in areas with frozen lines will usually trickle or not come out at all. This will usually help you isolate your search to a specific area of your home, such as a bathroom or laundry room.
- Look for exposed pipes in the area where you suspect a frozen water line. You might need to go into the attic, basement or crawl space of the area to look for uninsulated pipes.
- Check the pipes for any signs of bulging or cracking. You might also notice frost on any frozen sections of exposed pipes. The frozen areas will usually be much colder to touch than the pipes with free-flowing water.
- Examine the pipe(s) that supply water to the compromised area from the main supply to the water fixture. If you do not find the frozen part in an exposed area, it might be hidden inside of a wall. You might need to open the drywall to thaw pipes hidden inside of a wall.
Tips & Warnings
If no water in the house works, your main water line might be frozen. Check the areas where it enters your home (usually at the foundation or near the basement).
The American Red Cross recommends adding insulation to frozen pipes or relocating them to a more protected area to help prevent them from freezing.