Thaw frozen pipes carefully, warns Ithaca Fire Department

The Ithaca Fire Department had wise words this morning for area residents who are experiencing frozen water pipes in their houses and apartments due to the frigid weather: never use anything but a hair dryer to thaw them!

Trying to use an open flame or a torch to thaw frozen water pipes can start a fire! Never try to jury-rig space heaters in enclosed spaces.

A hair dryer on hot, aimed at pipes from a few inches away, might take a while, but that’s the only safe way to thaw a frozen pipe, says Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. of IFD. “Pipes conduct heat extremely well, so even if the freeze is behind a wall, you can usually thaw it out.”

Leaving cabinets open to help warm room air circulate under sinks can help prevent pipes from freezing in the first place, but be sure there are no hazardous items where children or pets can get at them. Running the water for a little bit in each bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, etc. each day can also help avoid freezing by keeping the water moving. If you leave a faucet dripping overnight, collect the water in a salad bowl and use it for watering plants or cooking, or add it to the toilet tank.

“If in doubt,” Basher says, “call a plumber or heating contractor to safely thaw the line and make any necessary repairs.”

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