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Question DetailsAsked on 1/30/2014

how much does it cost plumber to thaw a frozen drain pipe?

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3 Answers


What type of material is the pipe and where is it located?

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions


If it is that cold, be prepared to probably pay a premium. We have frozen pipes like crazy out here right now so resources are going to be thin to say the least.

Do you have a heating blanket?

Answered 6 years ago by Davidhughes


I assume you mean sewer.

Depends on where it is. IF a short drive and an openly accessible pipe like in a basement, pumphouse, or crawlspace and metal pipe, might be only minimum charge - about $100 plus or minus $25 usually. If plastic pipe can be about $50-100 more, because a heating pad or hot air gun has to be used instead of a torch, so it goes a lot slower.

That would be for one frozen spot. If a whole section is frozen, or if in wall or hard to get to under a house trailer that is skirted, for instance, then can run $150-300 and even more - especially if still very cold outside so is fighting outside cold to thaw it.

Plumber or pipe thawing service can do it - for in-house pipes I would recommend a plumber as he can then fix it right away if it split during the freezing.

If frozen in ground, then you need a pipe thawing service, who may thaw it with a thaw wire (if your service pipe has one installed next to it), by hooking a welder to your metal pipe and using that as a thaw wire (can cause pipe perforation), or with steam probes to thaw the ground around the pipe. Typically about $250 minimum charge, and on up to $500 to $1000 plus if need steam or a long section froze.

Prices can be highly variable, expecially when demand for their services is high, so be sure to get an estimate AND a committment on the work order of the hourly rate also before he starts - that way you can turn them off any time if cost starts getting out of hand. Once he sees the problem location, if not underground, he should be able to give you fixed bid unless multiple pipes froze.

Also - make sure is actually a regular contractor doing this work, not joe blow with a welder doing it because of the recent demand, with zero insruance or training.

If you are talking an exposed pipe, you might be able to just buy a length of self-limiting thaw tape (kind with a plug already on it), that is designed for plastic pipe if you have that, and wrap the pipe, plug it into an extension cord and wait till thawed, testing with a bit of water in the most downstream drain which is still upstream of the blockage from time to time to see if open.

If in a wall, a portable heater (guard from pets and kids and don't leave running unattended) far enough from the wall that the paint/wallpaper does not exceed about 100 degrees can usually thaw it in 4-6 hours unless you are subzero outside. Quicker if you have insulation board or batting you can put over about a 4 foot width on the the outside of the wall over where the pipe runs, with plastic tarp or visqueen over it if needed to keep dry. Even just the insulation will do it without a heater if taped airtight around the edges - but might take 6-12 hours without added inside heat. (Of course, this assumes house is heated - i.e. furnace working).

If you meant frozen gutter or french drain, then pipe thawing contractor can do it. A handyman might also be able to. Generally, if you control the water so it does not get the house/foundation saturated, these types you can thaw yourself with a garden hose and hot water and a jet nozzle on the end of the hose like this -

If you can work from the downstream end much neater, as you do not have water coming out the pipe inlet to handle - it will just flow away where it always does. In a longer buried pipe where the hose will not push in readily, get a few lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe with primer and glue and glue-on threaded fittings (so you can take it apart and store for next time) and a hose thread coupling - just hook the hose coupling to the threaded fittings on the pipe, assemble as many pieces of pipe as you need, and push into pipe (assuming it is straight) and work it in as hot water flows, melting out the blockage. Make sure to back out periodically to flush out debrids that might be in there so pipe joints do not get stuck in the pipe.

If gutter downspout drain, a hair dryer or heat gun (on low enough heat to not hurt pipe) can work there enough to free up a thawed side along the pipe - then pour hot water down it to thaw the rest of the way out. If you try thawingout any kind of pipe with a heat gun or hair dryer, as long as the pipe and the air flow are not too hot for you to hold your hand on or grab onto the pipe, you should not damage it. Takes longer than high heat but less chance of damaging it or starting fire. Be aware if it starts to leak so you don't get water on the dryer/gun and cause a short. Alsways start at a point you think is thawed already and work towards the frozen point so you do not create a hot point in the center of the frozen part that can expand and burst the pipe.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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