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If you're living in a cold area for the first time, you may be wondering about the potential for your bathroom pipes to freeze, and more specifically, bathtub drain pipes as they're the most commonly used. Can these pipes freeze? And if so, how do you unthaw them? We have looked into it these inquiries and have found the answers for you.
Yes, bathtub drain pipes can freeze. However, you'll be happy to know that there are a few different ways that you can unfreeze these pipes and within a matter of minutes. Here are some of the best ways to unfreeze your frozen drain pipes:
- Use vinegar and baking soda
- Use a space heater
- Try a blow dryer
- Try table salt
If your bathtub drain pipe has frozen, you should address the issue immediately. Frozen pipes can easily and quickly lead to costly home repairs from water damage. They can also lead to clogged drains and other structural issues inside the home. Continue reading to learn about how to unthaw frozen bathroom pipes and ways that you can prevent them from occurring.
Methods To Unfreeze Pipes
Use vinegar and baking soda
Baking soda and vinegar go great together when it comes to cleaning. But did you know that they can help clear frozen pipes as well? Well, they can. Their combined chemical reaction works to unthaw ice and can help free up the ice clog in the drain.
To use this method, start by pouring a cup of baking soda down the drain. Allow the baking soda to stay in the drain for about one minute and then pour ond and a half cups of white vinegar into the bathtub drain.
Next, wait for about five minutes and slowly pour a cup of room temperature water down the drain. Do this about two to four more times until the drain is cleared. You'll know that the pipes are unthawed when the water starts to run down freely without slowing down.
Use a space heater
You can also use a space heater to help safely warm up the bathroom drain pipe. The heater can help to unthaw the ice within a matter of minutes. You'll want to use extra caution when performing this method, as you don't want the pipes to burst.
To safely unthaw the pipes with the heater, be sure to place the heater at least two to three feet away from the drain. Next, turn the heater on a low setting and let it sit in the bathroom for about 10 to 30 minutes.
Then after this period has passed, try pouring a cup of room temperature water down the drain to see if the line has cleared. If not, allow the heater to continue sitting in the room and keep testing the drain every 15 to 25 minutes.
If you don't have a space heater, you can also increase the temperature in your home. This may take a bit longer, anywhere from two to three hours, but it can also help slowly and safely heat the drain pipe.
Try a blow dryer
If you have a blow dryer available, you can use it to gently warm up the drain pipe within a matter of minutes. Take the blow-dryer and place it on the lowest heat setting possible. Next, gently hold the blow dryer over the drain--no closer than eight inches. Do this for a period of about five to 10 minutes, and then try running two cups of water down the drain to determine if the ice has melted. If not, repeat as needed.
Try table salt
You may not be surprised to learn you can also use table salt to dissolve the ice in the drain. Similar to how salt works to melt snow on roads and sidewalks, it can be just as effective in your bathtub drain. If you have a frozen drain, take a half cup of table or Epsom salt and pour it into a gallon jug or bucket of lukewarm water.
Next, slowly pour the water down the drain. Then, take two cups of lukewarm water and pour it down the drain and note the amount of time it takes to drain. If it's still draining slowly, then there is still ice in the drain. If so, repeat the previous steps and test it again.
For additional tips on identifying and thawing frozen bathtub pipes, have a look at this YouTube video:
Ways To Prevent Frozen Drain Pipes
If you are worried about your pipes freezing, know that there are ways that you can prevent this from happening. Even if temperatures drop to below zero degrees in your local area, this doesn't necessarily mean that your pipes will automatically freeze. Here are a few methods that you can use for effective prevention.
Let faucets drip
During days when you anticipate freezing weather, such as below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's always a good idea to let the bathtub and sink faucets maintain a prolonged drip. This will prevent the pipes from freezing, especially if you plan to leave the house for a day or more.
Maintain a warm home temperature
Another way to prevent frozen pipes is to maintain the interior temperature in your home. This means keeping your thermostat at a minimum of 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the colder days.
Even if you aren't at home, maintaining a temperature of at least 60 degrees can prevent the pipes from becoming cold enough to freeze from outside temperatures. This is also very important if you have an attic or basement area that is not well insulated--especially if they contain water heaters, washing machines, or sink hookups.
Prepare your pipes for cold weather
If you expect ice storms or frigid temperatures in your area, you can always prepare your home and pipes for the cold weather. This includes everything from insulating exterior and interior pipes in your home, upgrading insulation, and resealing any door and window frames.
Effectively regulating your home's interior temperature can help prevent the pipes from freezing. It's also a good idea to disconnect and then drain any water hoses in your home that are not in use, such as the dishwasher or washing machine.
How cold does it have to be for drain pipes to freeze?
Typically, it only has to be as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit for drain pipes to freeze. Even if the windchill is at this temperature, the pipes inside or outside your home are prone to freezing--especially if the faucets are not used often enough or left at a continuous drip.
How do you unfreeze a bathtub drain?
The quickest way to unthaw a bathtub drain is to apply heat to the drain. To do this, you can use a blow dryer and hold it above the drain, or you can add a space heater to the room to help warm up the area around the drain.
If you don't have a space heater or blow dryer available, just turning up the temperature and warming up the room helps to unthaw the ice inside the drain. You can also pour baking soda and vinegar or table salt down the drain to help dissolve the ice.
Can frozen pipes cause drain clog?
Absolutely. Frozen pipes function the same way as clogged pipes; they simply block water from entering and exiting the faucets. If the pipes are frozen, the faucet won't work.
How to fix a frozen bathtub drain?
You can use heat to fix a frozen bathtub drain, or you can use a combination of baking soda and vinegar or table salt and warm water. It's best to unclog drains slowly to prevent the pipes from bursting once you run the water again. You can also use heat to unclog the drain, such as a space heater, blow dryer, or increase the bathroom temperature.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that this post has helped provide you with safe and effective methods for thawing your bathtub drain. Remember, unthawing a drain can cause serious water damage to your home. It's best to unthaw the ice slowly and carefully to avoid causing the pipes to burst. If you are wary about performing any of these methods yourself, you can always call a plumber to perform this service for you.
Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other posts: