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How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

In this how-to video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey shows various ways to prevent and thaw frozen pipes.

In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey explains how to prevent frozen pipes.

Steps for Preventing Pipes from Freezing

  1. Seal air-leaking holes and cracks around the home with expanding foam sealant or silicone caulk.
  2. Use foam-rubber pipe insulation to protect exposed pipes from cold.
  3. Slip foam-rubber insulation over the pipe, peel away backing strips, then press the adhesive surfaces together.
  4. At pipe corners, miter-cut the ends of the foam-rubber insulation with scissors, then secure the corner joint with foam tape.
  5. Before attempting to thaw a frozen pipe, open the faucet.
  6. Locate ice blockage, then use a heat gun or blow dryer to thaw frozen pipe; don't use a propane torch or another open flame.

If the frozen section of pipe is inaccessible, use an electric pipe-thawing machine.

Find the exposed ends of the pipe, then place one clamp from the machine onto each pipe; the machine will warm the pipe and eventually melt the blockage.


Looking for more help with repairs around your home? A home warranty may help. Check out these in-depth guides from the This Old House Reviews Team:


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