How to handle frozen pipes

Frozen water pipes due to extremely low temperatures are very common here in Michigan, but it’s just the first step.

The next step is busted water pipes, so when they freeze, you have to act quickly — and that’s where the trouble starts.

So what’s the fastest way to thaw a water pipe? With a blowtorch, of course. Now, that’s also the fastest way to burn down your home, as we’ve seen a few times already this winter.

Here are some better ways to handle frozen pipes so you won’t need a new house when you’ve finished.

Your water pipes didn’t freeze in a few minutes, so don’t expect them to thaw in a few minutes. To do this safely, this can take a few hours. Here are some safe suggestions:

• Use an electric blow dryer – Kept at a safe distance, this will work, but can also take the longest and wear your arm out holding it up for hours on end.

• Electrical heat tape – Once you’ve found the frozen area, this is a great solution, and one you may want to keep on after the pipes are thawed. This delivers heat directly to the affected areas and will thaw the fastest.

• Electric heating pad — This can come in handy if you aren’t up to running out for some heat tape, but you’ll need to know the precise section that the water is frozen.

• Electric space heaters – Kept at a safe distance once again, this will do the trick, but may take a bit longer to work.

• Hot towels — These can work providing you have the patience to keep reheating and replacing them when they cool
If none of the above seems to thaw your water supply, call a professional.

Frozen pipes aren’t the worst thing that can happen. Burning down your house trying to thaw them can be. Never use a torch, and you’ll never be sorry you did.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a WJBK-TV Fox2 Detroit news contributor and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.