Winter is here, and so are the problems associated with this season. One of the headaches you have to face is the frozen underground water line. In homes that are little used during the winter, the extreme cold can freeze the water in the pipes.
If the lines break due to excessive pressure, this often results in severe damage. So if it happens, how to unfreeze it? Here we explain how to thaw frozen pipes underground and how to avoid the damage further.
How to Tell If Your Underground Pipe is Frozen?
When the outside temperature is very low, determining the state is difficult. You cannot tell if a pipe is frozen by just touching it. The use of an infrared thermometer is efficient in highlighting the frozen state of the pipes.
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On the other hand, since an underground drain is not always directly accessible, we frequently have to resort to a camera.
Inspect Your Exterior Drain with a Camera
Camera inspection of pipes is an effective way to determine the condition of an underground drain. For this, you usually have to call in an expert to examine the drain using a camera. The camera is connected to a monitor.
However, to do this, you need a highly expert professional. This operation makes it possible to highlight the actual state of the drain. If your drainage system configuration does not allow the insertion of a camera, you may need to excavate.
How to Thaw Frozen Pipes Underground?
Will frozen pipes thaw on their own?
Yes, they will eventually. But this has a considerable risk of leaking afterward. So, what do we do? We try to unclog frozen drain pipes on our own or with professional help.
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It is clear that water pipes located in the ground are more challenging to defrost. The simplest of all options is to dig up the place of their laying.
Get to the track and apply one of the following methods:
Put Hot Water from the Outside
You can use hot water to unfreeze drain pipes. To do this, first, wrap the tube with a rag, and pour boiling water into it. The process can take several hours, depending on the length of the frozen area.
Use a Hairdryer
You can use a hairdryer too. This is a convenient option but one that requires a specific approach to the process itself. The fact is that the air comes out of the device at a sufficiently high temperature. And it can melt the plastic.
Therefore, it is necessary to accurately set the distance from the hairdryer's nozzle to the tube's surface.
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Apply Pressure Jet
To unfreeze underground water pipes, one can first use a high-pressure jet. This cleaning operation uses a very powerful water jet, which comes out through various perforations located on the nozzle. High-pressure jet cleaning thaws help eliminate accumulated grease and waste.
But there are several problems here:
- Digging into the frozen ground isn't easy. It will take a lot of time, effort, and work. In any case, the homeowner cannot do it alone.
- There is always the possibility that the plastic pipe can be damaged when digging an underground pipe. And this is another problem that will need to be solved immediately.
Therefore, it is better to use alternative options.
Pour Hot Water Into the Pipes
One of the effective defrosting methods of thawing frozen pipes underground is to use hot water. However, for this, you need to prepare. First, you will need hot water, and by hot, we mean the water must be at boiling point.
This method involves sending hot water down the drain to thaw it. Be careful not to carry out this operation yourself. Even if it seems simple, certain precautions must be taken not to cause damage to the home.
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At the same time, the hot water injection can be replaced by steam, depending on the situation.
Follow Electric Methods
You can use a steam generator. Its tube is introduced into a pipe where the pipe is frozen.
There is another option of using an autoclave. This is an installation that works based on boiling water. But unlike a steam generator, it releases boiling water.
You can also use a hydrodynamic machine. This is professional equipment based on heating water and its supply under pressure inside the water supply line.
Frozen Drainage Pipe: Better to Prevent
There are several things you can do to prevent the occurrence of frozen pipes outside the underground:
- Close the water pipes located in unheated rooms and empty the pipes by opening the taps. Let the water they contain escape.
- In prolonged absence, close the main water tap in the house and then open all the faucets to empty the pipes.
- In the event of low temperatures, do not close the radiators completely. Don't do this even at night or when the building is empty. It is not sufficient to activate the antifreeze device of the heating, as this protects only the radiators from freezing.
- Before leaving, close all windows.
- If the house is left uninhabited for a long time, ask a trusted person to come by for a checkup once a week.
Frozen water pipes and the associated problems create huge problems every year. These problems take time, cost money, and create daily hazards in our life. That is why it is essential to understand how to thaw frozen pipes underground.
Apart from taking the measures mentioned above, the last piece of advice would be regular maintenance. Check the pipes and other associated parts before winter and prepare for the worst. The rest will be easy.
For doing it yourself, you can use our second opinion service and get an expert opinion from our plumbing expert. If you don't want to go through all those struggles, our experienced plumbing experts can help you solve the problem on a video call. Even if you want our expert to visit your home and solve it, you can do it also. Check our plumbing service here.
Frequently Asked Questions :
How Long Does It Take for Frozen Pipes to Thaw?
The good thing is it doesn't take much time. With most of the methods, frozen pipes start thawing within 30 to 40 minutes.
How Do You Melt Ice in Underground Pipes?
There are a few ways you can follow to melt ice in underground pipes. Among them, the professionals use electric heat tapes, space heaters, or even heat lamps. On the other hand, vinegar, baking soda, and hairdryer are some DIY methods.
What Temperature Do Underground Pipes Thaw?
The temperature has to be under the freezing point inside the pipes to thaw them. The temperature under 20 Degree Fahrenheit starts freezing the pipes.
Will Pouring Hot Water Down the Drain Unfreeze Pipes?
It is an excellent DIY method to thaw pipes. Bring the water to a boiling point and slowly start pouring the hot water down the pipe. This will clear the lines.
How Do Plumbers Thaw Frozen Pipes?
As we mentioned before, plumbers and professionals use heat tape, heat lamps, space heaters, or even a hairdryer to thaw frozen pipes.
How Do You Unthaw Frozen Pipes without Bursting Them?
The most important thing is to keep the faucet open. Because when you start thawing, water discharge will need a way to get out, or otherwise, the pipes will burst.