There are several methods that can be used for thawing frozen pipes. These methods depend on the specific type of pipe that needs thawing. First, open all faucets unless you suspect cracked pipes (See tip below for cracked pipes). If you have plastic PVC pipes or metal, you can wrap them with cloth material like rags and pour boiling water over the cloth. The cloth will absorb the hot water keeping it against the pipe. You may have to repeat the process several times and work your way along the pipe. It’s best to start from the faucet and work backward.
PVC: A hair dryer or heat gun may melt or bend certain types of PVC. It’s advisable to follow the instructions above for PVC.
Thawing metal pipes using a torch
You can also use a blow torch to carefully and gradually heat metal pipes only and not PVC. See warning below if using a torch.
Warning if using a torch to thaw frozen metal pipes: Open flames can start a fire near types of insulation, wood beams, and near other combustible structural areas. Use extreme caution. Never use a torch near gas lines or near flammable liquids. It’s advisable to use boiling water, a hairdryer, or a highly rated heat gun since these are safer methods and may work just as well.
Cracked Pipes Tip: If you suspect freezing has cracked your pipes then turn off the main water source before thawing pipes and repair the cracks.
Use a dedicated pipe thawer if you have metal pipes
There are products on the market designed specifically to thaw frozen metal pipes. It’s an initial investment but a good one. Shop your local hardware store, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and/or browse customer reviews on Amazon to see if this is something that would work for you.