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Question DetailsAsked on 1/29/2014

How much does it cost a plumber to thaw a frozen pipe?

The pipe is located in an outside wall

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In our area, about $100-125/hour. For a typical copper or steel pipe tht you can use resistance heating or a torch on, about 1 hour work. For Pex or other plastic then you have to heat pad or tape the pipe or use a portable heater blowing hot air on the pipe where accessible on both sides and wait for it to heat and thaw the pipe - can be 2-3 hours, though usually they will put the heat on it and go do another job or two while it is heating, tellingyou to watch for leaks in case it split. I would say $100-125 minimum, more like $200 range would probably be normal. Ditto if he disconnected the pipe (or cuts it) and inserts a heated or hot water probe into the pipe to thaw it, which is normally only done for long runs of concealed pipe or behind walls that would be expensive to repair like in office buildings - $200-400 range there. If you let him tear into siding or drywall to access it directly, then the $125 range would be more reasonable, leaving you with the opening repair cost of several hundred $ however.

Cheap way to do it yourself, though be sure to watch for leaks in case pipe split: tape a piece of 4' wide, 4" thick insulation board over the outside wall with 4" duct tape, tightly sealed to the house at the edges and any seams with tape and centered on the pipe as close as you can figure (or go wider). The flatter the siding the better it works - plank siding and shingles it takes longer to work, but will still work if you get the edges sealed well. 3-1/2" or thicker Fiberglass batting will work too, just not as well and of course useless in high wind or if it gets wet. If faced, put facing to outside, and wrap in visqueen to stop airflow through the batting. Then aim a portable heater at the inside of the wall in the area where the pipe is, making sure wall temp itself does not go above about 110 degrees to avoid paint damage. You want to heat a 3-5 foot wide section of the wall, not just one small spot, so heater should be back a few feet from wall. Heat should be applied to lower part of where pipe is likely to be frozen, if possible, but not vital - just takes a little longer otherwise. Of course, do not leave unattended for fire safety, and don't do this without making pets and small kids are blocked away from that room. Usually, at about zero outside temp, takes about 2-4 hours to thaw the pipe with a 1000-1250W portable heater. You can actually do without the hester, but will take more like 6 -12 hours to thaw, and may not work at all without higher interior heat below about minus 10 or 20F or in significant wind. Be sure a faucet is partly open on the pipe you are trying to thaw if domestic water so you will know when it is thawed; if baseboard heating pipe you will know because heating loop will start to work.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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