Resources & Insights

Tips for Thawing Frozen Water Pipes

February 21, 2019

Matt Genova,
VP, Personal Lines and Programs

For a lot of us, it’s been a colder and wetter than usual February.

If you haven’t yet, this would be a good time to take steps to prevent your home’s pipes from freezing and bursting, especially if you live in an older home.

We all know (or should know) to open your kitchen cabinets, which lets the heat flow through. If your pipes are prone to freezing, allow a small trickle of water to run to keep them from freezing.

Here’s a quick rundown of what else to do to prevent frozen water pipes and which won’t cost you a dime:

  • Keep interior doors open (this allows the heat to circulate throughout your home more efficiently).
  • If you have ceiling fans, flip the switch in reverse to draw the air down and warm the room.
  • Keep garage doors shut, especially if there are water lines in the garage (which tends be colder than other areas of the house).
  • Close outdoor vents, such as in attics or crawlspaces, to prevent cold exterior air from penetrating your home.
  • Disconnect all outside water hoses and let cold water trickle out of faucets in unheated areas or where pipes run on an exterior wall, as this can help relieve any pressure building from ice inside a pipe.
  • You can try to avoid frozen pipes by bumping up the temperature in your home. This, of couse, will mean a higher heating bill. But turning up the thermostat may be all that is needed to prevent a buildup of ice.

If you discover your pipes have frozen, run warm water through the pipe to melt the ice. Applying heat to frozen water pipes by wrapping them with towels soaked in hot water can also do the trick.

You should always begin the thawing process near the faucet then work your way down to the blockage. This will help ensure that the melting ice and steam is able to escape through the open faucet.

Do not use any device with an open flame to try to thaw frozen water pipes; the high heat can damage the pipes or start a fire.

What else can you do? Well, with a small budget, you should consider:

  • Adding insulation. Attics, basements and crawl spaces are susceptible to the cold, because they typically aren’t temperature-controlled. The thicker the insulation, the more freeze-proof your pipes will be.
  • Install water alarms. These devices detect leaks before costly water damage occurs. They can also detect moisture before mold can grow. Place them under sinks, behind toilets, near water heaters, refrigerators or dishwashers, next to washing machines, and close to air-conditioner drain tubes.

Finally, if a frozen water pipe does burst, the first thing you should do is shut off the main water line into your property. This will prevent additional water from flowing and damaging your property. You should know where the shut-off valves are for each of your properties and for each unit. There are usually smaller shut-off valves located near sinks and toilets, but the main shut-off valve is often located near the water meter.

Matt Genova is the Personal Lines and Programs VP at CCIG. Reach him at or 720-330-7936.

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance brokerage with the full-service capabilities of a national brokerage. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We also help you lower your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

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