How to thaw frozen water pipes?

We have an inground pool that has no water in it (cannot be filled because liner ripped) and our water pipes run right along the side of the pool. They are frozen and we cannot access them, anyone have any suggestions as to how to heat them up?
  4 answers
  • Assuming they are copper pipes and depending upon how close they are to the surface. You can do a few things to fix this issue. 1. Construct a tent of plastic using short lengths of PVC pipe to hold the plastic above the ground a foot or two. This tent should extend about one or two fee out on each side of the pipe location in the ground. Then using a salamander type propane heater blow the hot air into one end of the tent. The heat will warm up the ground and slowly defrost the pipes. It will take several hours and a few propane tanks to get this done. Once defrosted you will need to protect these pipes from re-freezing by putting a lot of additional soil and salt hay over the top to act as an insulation blanket. This method will only work if the pipe is near the surface. If its buried below a one foot level, your not going to have any luck. And you may end up needing to dig the ground with a machine to replace the pipe. Be prepared for a cracked pipe, you will find out in short order if it is once it begins to defrost. 2. Another method of defrosting a pipe is done by a professional. They use a electrical current with special clamps to run current through the pipe effectively heating the pipe. However the pipe needs to be exposed and not buried. 3. The last thing you can do is to dig at both ends where the pipe is believed not to be frozen. Then cut out the frozen pipe and run a new PEX pipe above ground. Using a tape heater for pipes and some thick pipe insulation protect the pipe from freezing. Once the spring comes around or weather that will allow you to dig and properly place the pipe deeper so it will not freeze again then remove the temp fix and correct it. My question is how deep is the pipe? or is it really close to the side wall of the abandoned pool. In any case, both issues are incorrectly installed.

  • Danylle M Danylle M on Jan 27, 2013
    Thank you for your response. We were told the pipe is about 1 foot from the edge of the pool and about 2 feet down, do you think the first method would work if the pipes are that far underground?

  • No it would take forever. I think your going to have to either wait for a thaw, good luck with that, or dig on both ends and run a line over the ground using heat tape and lots of thick insulation to protect the pipe. I am surprised that the pipe is that close to the pool. It really should not be that close to the surface or the pool. It should be at least four feet down or more. As the frost line in your area can be as much as three feet in really cold winters.

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 28, 2013
    The Electric pipe thaw method does work on buried pipes. The city guys do this in my neighbor hood almost every year. They have even done it on my place twice. One end of the "jumper cable" is attached to my outside faucet...the other end is connected to the service valve via the metal handle that turns it on. The current warms the pipe. For many in my area that have a chronic problem due to the water main being shallow, the city has installed a wire cable to the tap at the main. Then then hook up the "jumper cable" to this cable which directs the current to the smaller line under ground. For this method to work you only need access to the pipe on either side of the frozen area. And obviously the pipe needs to be metal to conduct current.