How to Unclog Frozen Drain Pipes

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Things You'll Need

  • Pipe snake

  • Hair dryer

Image Credit: Jupiterimages/ Images

When the weather outside is freezing, there is very little you want more than to be warm and comfortable indoors. It can be difficult to be comfortable inside, however, if your drain pipes are frozen. Frozen drain pipes can cause your sink to back up, leaving you to deal with vile gray water. In addition, not being able to use your sink can impede necessary activities such as washing dishes. There are steps you can take, though, to unclog your frozen drain pipes and regain full usage of your sink.


Step 1

Run a pipe snake down into your drain to make sure your drain pipe is actually frozen and not just clogged. Pull the pipe snake back up and examine the end you sent down into the drain. If there is no hair or food stuck to the end of the pipe snake, your blockage is likely ice.

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Step 2

Turn your taps on. Allow a small drizzle of water to run down into the frozen pipe from each faucet. This gets water flowing through your drain pipes from all inlets.


Step 3

Apply heat for 20 minutes to the section of the pipe where the ice blockage is located. This may be in your basement, crawl space or even outdoors. A hair dryer is ideal for this task. If you do not have a hair dryer, you may also use a heat lamp.

Step 4

Turn on your faucet and allow it to run on "hot" for several minutes. If the water backs up, the blockage is not entirely melted and you will need to work on it some more.


Step 5

Check the pipe again while the water is running in the area where the pipe was frozen to make sure that the freeze did not damage the pipe and result in a leak. If you find a leak, have it repaired immediately to prevent the pipe from bursting.


If you cannot reach the frozen pipe, rent a heater with a blower at your nearest construction equipment rental facility. These heaters are strong enough to blow hot air all the way down into your drain pipe and melt the ice blockage.


Do not use a blow torch to attempt to thaw an ice blockage in your pipes. A blow torch causes pipes to get too hot and can damage them.

If your water does not run when you turn on your faucets, this may indicate that your main water pipe is frozen.Although this is unlikely, if it occurs, you should seek professional assistance.


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