Depending upon the situation, you can perform some basic tasks to help with the thawing process when your pipes or water meter are frozen. However, there are steps that should definitely be left to professional plumbers. You could make matters infinitely worse and bring on a deluge of water from a burst pipe or meter if you proceed in the wrong direction.
Do not use a torch or any type of fire on a frozen pipe or meter. While it will accomplish the task of thawing the ice, the sudden drastic temperature change can cause the pipe or meter to burst open, requiring an immediate call to a 24/7 emergency plumbing services provider.
Interior Pipes and Meters
Frozen pipes and meters inside your home present the greatest risk for indoor flooding if a pipe should leak. However, they are also most amenable to thawing by the homeowner. Before you begin to attempt any type of thawing procedures, you must first locate the main shutoff valve to your home.
The shutoff valve will be located at the meter If your water meter is inside your home. If your meter is located outside the home, the shutoff valve will be positioned along the interior wall that is closest to the outdoor meter location.
A frozen interior water meter will shut off the water supply to the entire home. Ice will have formed on or around the meter due to frozen condensation. Before attempting to thaw an interior meter, you must be aware of the possible consequences. If the meter is cracked, it will start to leak after it is thawed,so you must have an adjustable wrench at the ready to shut off the water at the "utility" side of the meter, which is the side where the service pipe enters the home.
Open at least one faucet before attempting to thaw a meter so water will start to flow when thawing is accomplished. A blow dryer can be effective in thawing an interior meter. Towels soaked in hot water will also assist the thawing process. You may also alternate between the two options until thawing is complete.
Frozen interior pipes will usually result in water loss in only the specific components supplied by individual pipes. However, a frozen supply pipe at the main valve will affect the entire home.
You can use the same techniques on pipes as with water meters. Again, torches should not be used, especially indoors, because of the double risks of burst pipes and house fires. Thawing a frozen pipe may also open the flood gates, so remember the main shutoff valve if a pipe starts to leak.
Exterior Pipes and Meters
You will usually need to wait for exterior meters and pipes to thaw as outdoor temperatures rise. If the problem is in the water meter and the meter is owned and serviced by a local public utility, the homeowner is often forbidden to tamper with the meter. Call your local utility to have your meter checked.
A frozen service line is usually the responsibility of the homeowner. However, there is no effective thawing method for exterior pipes and meters that doesn't involve possible damage to the pipe or meter. After thawing restores water service, any break in the meter or service liner will appear in the form of pooling or freely flowing water.
You must then call your local utility to shut off the water. If they are unavailable due to local demand, call a 24/7 emergency plumbing provider to shut of the water and determine if the problem belongs to you or your local utility. For more information, contact companies like Adept Plumbing Inc.