I noticed my cold water lines to the upstairs bathroom were frozen last Monday. After leaving the heat cranked high, the toilet and the sink thawed. But the cold water line to the tub is still frozen.

I've had the heat on almost 24/7 for the last week, I've left the hot water to the tub dripping, and I've put a space heater right by the visible cold water pipe, along with the hair dryer tip and it still as not thawed.

Today is the first day since Monday that it has been above 32 degrees, currently it is 45 degrees,so I'm hoping it will finally thaw today. I have noticed that the cold water does drip, and I might be imagining it but I feel like the dripping is speeding up. So I don't think the pipe is completely blocked, which is hopefully a good thing.

But tomorrow is going to be below freezing again, and it will stay that way for the next week.

If I can't get it to thaw today, should I call a plumber? The longer it stays frozen, the more nervous I become about it. But my mom told me that there is nothing a plumber can do until it bursts. Is that true?

Of course, maybe it's not frozen. Maybe it's an air pocket. If that's the case, can a plumber fix it without putting holes in the walls/floors? Because ideally I would like to avoid that.

Thanks for any help!

  • 1
    Not really an answer to your question, but: it sounds like the pipes have been frozen solid for quite some time. You should make sure to watch for signs of a burst pipe in the walls. That's really the main concern. A burst pipe can do a huge amount of damage if not identified promptly. Even PEX can burst at any joints, although it's much less likely.
    – Hank
    Feb 22, 2015 at 20:41
  • 1
    Some dripping is a good sign. As soon as you get some water moving through the pipe, it will help to thaw the rest of the blockage out. As @HenryJackson points out, watch (and listen) carefully for signs of leaks; it's when the pipe thaws that damage is done. Now is a good time to make sure you know how to turn the water supply off! If it thaws today, leave the faucet dripping slowly on future cold nights; moving water freezes much more slowly than still water.
    – TomG
    Feb 22, 2015 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


I would only call a plumber if the purpose was to have the plumber reroute the lines to an interior wall where the pipes will not freeze. I can't see paying someone $100 an hour plus for holding a hair dryer or mini-blow torch next to a pipe to get it to thaw. Your plumber plumbs not perform magic.

If your pipes are freezing to this extent though I think that you will eventually need to have things reworked. Spend your plumbing money on this.

  • Thank you. I'm actually a tenant living in my aunt and uncle's house. They said they never had a problem with freezing pipes. But this has been a really cold winter. She is out of the country until late next month so I don't think she would want me to do any major reworking. I guess I'll just wait until the weather warms up and let the pipes resolve themselves. I think this is supposed to be the last cold week, so hopefully everything will be fine.
    – Jasmine B
    Feb 22, 2015 at 20:37
  • Since you have it dripping let it continue, a small dribble will help melt the ice in the pipe and once it flows keep that faucet at a small dribble to prevent it from freezing again, I agree that unless it bursts a plumber is going to cost more than they are worth because the pipe may be fine. Be prepared to turn the water off to the house and once the water is flowing again watch for wet spots in the walls and ceilings down stairs. I have seen pinhole leaks cut holes right through sheetrock without much mess elsewhere just be aware once the ice melts there may be a leak.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 18, 2018 at 0:00

I would go to the hardware store and get a roll of electrical heating strip/tape (could be named either one). We would use this up in Minnesota in our gutters and valleys to prevent icing. Wrap this around the frozen pipe for as long as it is exposed to you. That way the entire ice blockage is getting warmed up and not just a small section. Now that you know these pipes have an issue if it gets too cold outside, you should always leave their faucets on slow drip over night. It doesn't need to be much to keep the pipe from freezing.

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