The Best Way to Handle Frozen Pipes

Category: Diagnostics Tools, Thawing Frozen Pipes

Q: I dread winter. Every time an arctic blast moves south, the pipes freeze in one of my buildings. What method do you suggest to thaw the pipes and get the water moving again?

hot-shot_graphic__largeA: The first thing to do is insulate all your pipes, especially those located close to the outside walls. Then, when you hear a cold wave coming, turn off the water and drain the lines in the empty apartments. In many cases, you can place a work light under a sink cabinet to generate just enough heat to keep the pipes from freezing.

Once the pipes freeze, don’t use a blowtorch to thaw the pipe. You risk burning the house down. Don’t waste time with a space heater. They are too slow. Instead, rent or purchase a pipe-thawing machine.

Just plug the pipe-thawing machine into a 115-volt outlet and clamp the cables on either side of the frozen section of pipe. The pipe-thawing machine sends low voltage (about 5 volts) but high amperage current (between 300 and 400 amps) through the metal pipe. It’s safe to touch, and it doesn’t get the pipe red hot, so there’s no danger of a fire. Instead, it heats the pipe just a few degrees above freezing. Once the outer layer of water thaws, water pressure melts the rest. The water will be flowing again in minutes.

For more information, or to ask a question, email

Connect with the Drain Brains

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Google Plus

Do You Need Help?

Check out our tool selection guide or chat with a Drain Brain! We can help you by answering any questions about our products you may have.

Chat with Us

View Tool Selection Guide

Success Stories

“Drain cleaning can be pretty messy, and you expect to see some nasty stuff,” he admits, “But imagine my surprise when my Super-Vee™ once snaked a Batman toy from a line. I still don’t know how I did it!”

John Comerford Jr Cleveland, OH

I offer a 30-day warranty on every drain-cleaning job, but I can’t give a warranty if I don’t do the job right, and I can’t do the job right if I don’t have the right tools. That’s why I run my whole company with General products, they enhance our professional image!

Chris Fantauzzo Trenton, NJ

General equipment is durable, and takes a beating,” he says. “We use our General tools 24/7 – 365 days a year, and they don’t fail us. General equipment lets us power through tough problems that our competitors walk away from!

Michael Williams Philadelphia, Pa