How to Fix Frozen Washing Machine Pipes

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Whether you're a homeowner or a renter, extreme weather can affect the otherwise smooth operation of your home. Frozen washing machine pipes can be especially problematic, and these pipes are most likely to freeze if your machine abuts a cold outside wall and outdoor temperatures fall below freezing for an extended period. If the pipes have not cracked, you don't need call a plumber. You can remedy this problem yourself in one of two ways, with patience and tenacity.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Bucket
  • Hair dryer
  • Heavy, absorbent towel
  • Gloves

Blow Dryer Method

  • Turn off the water at the home's main shutoff valve. This will reduce the pressure on the frozen pipes.

  • Disconnect the water-supply hoses from the washing machine faucets and/or the washing machine itself. Make sure the faucets are open so the melting water can drip out. Place a bucket below open faucets, and a heavy towel or another bucket below the pipes.

  • Mop up any dripping water before reaching for the mightiest hair dryer in the house. Turn it to the highest setting, and run it back and forth over the length of the frozen pipes.

  • Continue to keep the floor dry as you heat the pipes with the hair dryer.

Hot-Wrap the Pipes

  • Wrap the frozen pipes in steaming hot rags or towels. The easiest way to do this is to work with small rags, which are easier to heat and handle. Saturate a rag with hot water, squeeze out excess water and then place it in the microwave for two minutes or as needed. Place a heavy towel below the frozen pipes.

  • Put on a pair of gloves; remove the hot rag from the microwave, and wrap one section of the pipe with the rag.

  • Repeat this process until the frozen pipes are fully covered. When the rags cool down, replace them one at a time with newly heated rags until the pipes are thawed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try both methods, if you like -- and work with an assistant if your arms tire. With repetition, your frozen pipes will eventually thaw.
  • Prevent your washing machine pipes from freezing by wrapping them with pipe insulation, which you can find at home improvement stores. Also, check for drafts near the pipes and caulk them.
  • Never use a torch to thaw frozen indoor pipes; you could start a fire.
  • Never use a hair dryer that is wet or while you are standing in or otherwise exposed to water, to prevent dangerous electrical shock.

References

  • Photo Credit Kyle Nelson/iStock/Getty Images
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