How to Unfreeze a Drain Pipe

unfreeze a drain

BRRR! It’s freezing out!

A couple of weeks back, during the last nasty cold snap we had, I wrote a post on how to unfreeze water pipes. I’ve done this many many times, and was in the process of doing it yet again when I wrote that post.

Now, I’m writing a post on how to unfreeze a drain pipe. Care to take a guess as to why…?

Yep! My drain pipe is frozen in my kitchen. I am now unable to use my kitchen sink or my washer, so I can’t do dishes or laundry until I unfreeze a drain pipe that’s most likely located under my house – again.

Although it’s usually less likely for a drain to freeze than a water line, it does happen from time to time, and when it does, it’s all sorts of frustrating.¬†Hopefully this never happens to you, but if it does, here are a few tips to help you unfreeze a drain pipe.

Heat the Pipe

When a drain freezes, it most commonly freezes in the trap, the funky shaped piece of pipe directly below your sink or tub. For some reason, this is not the case in my funky old house today. Figures. However, the first step you should take to unfreeze a drain is to heat the pipe. Don’t apply very high heat or use an open flame like a blow torch, though, as this can damage the pipe. Instead, use a hair dryer or space heater. You might also be able to unfreeze a drain pipe by wrapping it in a heating pad or a damp towel that has been soaked in hot water and wrung out.

Pour Hot Water Down the Drain

To unfreeze a drain pipe that hasn’t been frozen very long try just dumping some hot water down the drain. Fill a pan with water, and warm it on the stove. Once it’s almost boiling,¬†carefully pour it into the drain. This may just be enough to break through the ice and unfreeze a drain completely. This might also be one of the only options you have, if you can’t access a drain pipe, such as one under a floor.

Add Salt

There’s a reason we throw salt on sidewalks and spread it on icy roads – it melts ice by lowering the freezing point of the water. You can sometimes unfreeze a drain pipe by pouring simple table salt into your drain or backed up sink or tub. You can heat a pot of water on the stove and gradually stir in salt until it no longer dissolves and pour that down the drain.

Call a Plumber

I refuse to do this just yet, mostly because I’m just stubborn and have an “I can do it MYSELF!” attitude. However, I realize that this is certainly not the best attitude to have. In some cases, you may have to bite the bullet and call a plumber if you’ve tried everything you can think of and still can’t unfreeze a drain pipe.

Have you ever had to unfreeze a drain pipe? Any other tips?