What to Do When PEX Pipes Freeze: A Step-by-Step Guide

a frozen pex pipe

When winter’s icy grip seizes your PEX pipes, you might feel a chill creep up your spine. The cold hard truth is that frozen pipes can spell disaster for any homeowner. But fear not, the plumbing gods have blessed us with some pliable solutions and we’re here to share them with you!

Remember those cozy evenings sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace? Well, imagine spending that time worrying about bursting PEX pipes instead— certainly puts a damper on things! So why play victim to Mother Nature’s chilling wrath when we could battle her head-on?

Gear up for an engaging exploration into ‘What to Do When PEX Pipes Freeze.’ Join us as we navigate through effective pipe unfreezing methods, proactive prevention tactics, and a wealth of insights ahead. Embrace the upcoming insights to master winter challenges – after delving into this post, dealing with freezing will feel like a breeze!

a pex pipe covered in ice

Identifying Frozen PEX Pipes

When temperatures drop, one of the most common plumbing issues is frozen pipes. Identifying whether your PEX pipes have frozen is the first step in addressing this problem.

Signs of frozen PEX pipes include no water flow or reduced water pressure from faucets and fixtures connected to these pipes. In some cases, you may also notice bulges or cracks on the surface of the pipes.

Methods to Thaw the Frozen Pipes Safely

Thawing your frozen PEX pipes promptly is crucial to prevent them from bursting and causing extensive damage to your plumbing system. Here are some safe methods you can use:

1. Using Warm Air

Use a hairdryer or a heat gun set on low heat to gently warm up the frozen section of the pipe. Begin at the faucet end and work your way toward where it enters your home.

2. Wrapping with Heating Tape

Electric heating tape can be wrapped around the frozen area of a PEX pipe for even heat distribution and gradual warming.

3. Infrared Lamp

Position an infrared lamp near areas where freezing has occurred, allowing it to emit gentle warmth that helps defrost the affected pipe sections.

4. Pex Pipe Bulbs

Gently clamping pex pipe bulbs over exposed surfaces will safely apply steady localized heat that gradually thaws out any ice inside pex tubing.

Always remember safety precautions when thawing PEX pipes, such as keeping flammable materials away from potential sources of heat.

Preventing Pipe Bursts During Thawing Process

While thawing your frozen PEX pipes, there’s always a risk of sudden pressure buildup leading to pipe bursts. To prevent this, follow these steps:

1. Open Faucets: Before starting the thawing process, open all faucets connected to the frozen PEX pipes to relieve any pressure that may build up during thawing.

2. Start Slowly: Apply heat gradually and do not rush the thawing process. Rapid heating can cause thermal shock and increase the risk of pipe bursts.

3. Catch Drips: Place a bucket or towel beneath any sections where water might leak as you apply heat to catch any drips and prevent water damage.

Tools and Supplies Required for Thawing PEX Pipes

Gathering the necessary tools and supplies is essential when attempting to thaw your frozen PEX pipes safely. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Hairdryer/Heat Gun: This will help you provide warm air over pex tubing surfaces

2. Infrared Lamp: If available position the infrared lamp near exposed pipes

3. Pipe Heating Tape: To wrap around pipes efficiently distributing low-grade warmth along their length

4. Pex Pipe Bulbs: Specially designed light bulbs applied directly onto parts of pex tubes that require defrost treatment

5. Buckets/Towels: To catch potential drips while thawing processes are underway

a man holding a hammer and fixing pex

Applying Heat to Frozen PEX Pipes

Once you have gathered the necessary tools and supplies for thawing your frozen PEX pipes, follow these steps:

1. Hairdryer/Heat Gun Method

– Plug in your hairdryer or heat gun and set it on low heat.
– Begin at one end of the frozen section of the pipe.
– Move slowly along the pipe, applying heat evenly and avoiding concentrated heat on one spot.
– Continue until the entire frozen section is thawed.

2. Infrared Lamp Method

– Position the infrared lamp near the frozen areas of your PEX pipes.
– Allow it to emit gentle warmth over time, gradually thawing the iced sections.

3. Pex Pipe Bulbs:

– Gently clamp pex bulbs over affected areas
– Leave bulbs in place for the recommended period, allowing them to apply sustained heating

Remember to always prioritize safety while using any heat source when thawing your PEX pipes.

Alternative Methods of Thawing Frozen Pipes

In addition to applying direct heat using hairdryers or infrared lamps, there are a few alternative methods you can consider:

1. Hot Water Soak: Carefully pour hot water (not boiling) over sections of frozen PEX pipes until they thaw out completely.

2. Epsom Salt Solution: Create a solution by dissolving Epsom salt in warm water. Pour this solution over the frozen areas of your pipes and allow it to work its magic by slowly melting away the ice.

3. Pipe Heating Cables: Purchase specialized electric heating cables designed for use on plumbing systems. Wrap these around your PEX pipes and activate them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Long-Term Solutions to Prevent Freezing of PEX Pipes

While taking immediate action is crucial when dealing with frozen PEX pipes, implementing long-term solutions can help prevent future occurrences. Here are some tips:

1. Add Insulation: Insulate exposed sections of your plumbing system that are prone to freezing using foam pipe insulation or heat tape.

2. Seal Cracks and Leaks: Regularly inspect your home’s exterior for any cracks or gaps that could allow cold air to reach your pipes. Seal these openings to minimize the risk of freezing.

3. Maintain Interior Temperature: Keep your home heated to a consistent temperature, especially in areas where pipes are located. During colder nights, avoid drastically lowering the thermostat.

4. Allow Faucets to Drip: When temperatures are expected to drop significantly, allowing faucets connected to vulnerable pipes to drip slightly can help prevent freezing by keeping water moving.

5. Disconnect and Drain Outdoor Hoses: Before winter sets in, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses and faucets to prevent water from freezing and expanding within the pipes.


As winter’s frosty fingers reach out, don’t let the threat of frozen PEX pipes freeze you in your tracks. Armed with the knowledge of identifying frozen pipes, safe thawing techniques, prevention strategies, and long-term solutions, you can boldly face the icy challenges that come your way.

Remember, prevention is the key to avoiding the headache and expense of dealing with burst pipes. By taking proactive steps and being prepared, you can ensure a cozy, worry-free winter season in the comfort of your well-protected home.

So go ahead, enjoy that cup of hot cocoa by the fireplace, and leave your frozen pipe worries behind—because you’ve got the tools and know-how to conquer winter like a true plumbing warrior!

FAQs On What To Do When PEX Pipes Freeze

Q: How can I prevent my PEX pipes from freezing?

A: To prevent your PEX pipes from freezing, it is important to insulate them properly. Insulating PEX water lines can help protect them from the cold temperatures. You can use foam pipe insulation or special PEX insulation sleeves to cover the pipes and keep them warm. Additionally, it is advised to ensure that the building or space where the pipes are located is properly heated, especially in colder climates.

Q: What happens if my PEX pipe freezes?

A: If your PEX pipe freezes, it can lead to serious issues. When water in the pipes freezes, it expands, which can cause the pipes to burst. A burst pipe can result in water damage to your home and the need for costly repairs. It is important to act quickly when you discover a frozen PEX pipe to prevent further damage.

Q: Are PEX pipes more resistant to freezing compared to other types of pipes?

A: PEX pipes can withstand freezing temperatures better than some other types of pipes, such as copper or metal pipes. Although PEX pipes have a certain level of resistance to freezing, they can still freeze if the temperature gets cold enough. Proper insulation and preventive measures are important to keep your PEX pipes from freezing.

Q: Should I hire a plumber to prevent my PEX pipes from freezing?

A: While it is not necessary to hire a plumber to prevent your PEX pipes from freezing, consulting with a master plumber can provide valuable advice and guidance specific to your home’s plumbing system. A plumber can help assess the potential risks and recommend the best insulation methods for your PEX pipes to ensure they are well-protected during cold weather.

Q: How can I insulate my PEX pipes?

A: There are a few ways to insulate PEX pipes. You can use foam pipe insulation, which is readily available at hardware stores. This insulation fits around the pipes and provides an extra layer of protection against the cold. Another option is to use PEX insulation sleeves, specifically designed for PEX water lines. These sleeves slide over the pipes and help keep them warm. It is important to properly secure the insulation in place to ensure it remains effective.

Q: Can PEX pipes burst from freezing?

A: Yes, PEX pipes can burst if they freeze. When water inside the pipes freezes and expands, it creates pressure, which can cause the pipes to burst. Burst pipes can lead to significant water damage and costly repairs. Taking preventive measures, such as insulating the pipes and keeping the temperature high enough, can help reduce the risk of PEX pipes bursting from freezing.

Q: Can I use a hairdryer to thaw a frozen PEX pipe?

A: It is generally not recommended to use a hairdryer or any direct source of heat to thaw a frozen PEX pipe. Exposing the pipe to high heat can potentially cause damage or even lead to bursting. It is safer to use gentle heat, such as warm towels or a space heater, to gradually thaw the frozen section of the pipe. If you are unsure or uncomfortable with thawing the pipe yourself, it is best to consult a professional plumber.

Q: What should I do if I suspect my PEX pipe is frozen?

A: If you suspect that your PEX pipe is frozen, there are a few steps you can take. First, locate the area of the pipe where the freeze might have occurred. You can do this by feeling for extremely cold spots along the pipe or checking for a complete lack of water flow. Then, you can try to warm up the pipe by using gentle heat sources like warm towels or a space heater. If you are unable to thaw the pipe or if you notice any signs of a burst pipe, it is important to call a professional plumber for assistance.

Q: Can running a trickle of water through the pipes prevent them from freezing?

A: Running a trickle of water through the PEX pipes can be an effective way to prevent them from freezing. Moving water is less likely to freeze compared to stagnant water, so a small trickle of water can help keep the pipes from reaching freezing temperatures. It is important to note that this method should only be used when the temperature is expected to drop below freezing. Running a constant trickle of water can result in increased water usage, so it is recommended to use this method sparingly and when necessary.

Q: How can I prevent damage to my home from frozen PEX pipes?

A: To prevent damage to your home from frozen PEX pipes, it is essential to take preventive measures and act quickly when a frozen pipe is suspected. Properly insulating the pipes, keeping the temperature high enough, and addressing any freezing issues promptly can help minimize the risk of damage. Additionally, having a plan in place for emergencies and knowing how to shut off the water supply can be beneficial in case of a burst pipe.

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