Will Pouring Hot Water Down the Drain Unfreeze Pipes?

Frozen pipes can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. When your pipes freeze during the frigid winter months, you’ll want to address the problem to avoid a burst pipe. Burst pipes are not only an inconvenience—they can result in devastating water damage and costly repairs.

You may be wondering if pouring hot water down the drain will unfreeze pipes. The answer is “yes” if the frozen pipe is a drain pipe. We cover several other thawing techniques you might want to consider using if you’re dealing with frozen water lines. 

Below we’ll discuss the proper method for pouring hot water down frozen pipes, as well as additional thawing tips to try.

How to Unfreeze Pipes With Hot Water

In most instances, pouring hot water down the drain will unfreeze drain pipes. However, it’s essential to take your time with this method to increase its effectiveness and ensure your safety. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Fill a pot with a half-gallon of water and bring it to a boil on the stove.
  2. Pour the water down the drain carefully and slowly.
  3. Turn on the faucet and let warm water run for 5 minutes.
  4. Repeat the process as needed.

While addressing a frozen pipe quickly is crucial, don’t rush. When pouring hot water down frozen pipes, remember to take proper safety precautions. 

Additional Thawing Methods

If you’re dealing with a frozen water line or you’ve tried pouring hot water down frozen pipes with no success, there are additional thawing methods you can try before contacting a professional for help.

Apply Heat

Much like pouring hot water down frozen pipes, applying heat sources to your pipes can help them thaw. There are many budget-friendly and easy ways to apply heat to your frozen pipes, including:

  • Heat Tape: Use heat tape on exposed pipes to slowly warm and thaw the pipe.
  • Hair Dryers: Gently heat the pipe with the hairdryer for 4 to 5 minutes. Don’t touch the pipe with the hairdryer.
  • Space Heaters: Position the space heater in front of the frozen section of pipe.
  • Heat Lamps: Ensure the lamp is aimed in the direction of the pipe, but keep it at a safe distance.
  • Heating Pads: Wrap the frozen sections of pipe with a heating pad on a low to medium setting.
  • Hot Towels: Soak towels in hot water, ring them out, and place them around the pipe. Replace the hot towels every five to ten minutes.

These heating tips are great for a wide variety of frozen pipes. But remember: never use open flames to thaw pipes. This can create a fire hazard.

Increase the Temperature

All of these tips are helpful for how to unfreeze drain or water pipes, but there is one more worth mentioning: setting a higher thermostat temperature.

It may seem simple, but increasing your home’s temperature by a few degrees can help thaw a frozen pipe. The process may take a few hours, but the warm air will help get your water flowing once again.

Open Faucets

This is a preventative method we recommend homeowners follow on extremely cold nights. Leaving your faucet open just enough for the water to trickle can help prevent pipes from freezing in the first place.

This is also beneficial even after the fact. Opening the faucet can relieve built-up pressure and provide water with an escape route as the frozen pipe starts to thaw.  


If your home’s pipes are frozen and these tips aren’t enough to fix the problem, there’s no need to worry. The experts at Spencer Home Services are here to help fix frozen pipes quickly and effectively. Our founder, Peter Holland, built a reputation for dependable and respectful plumbing services. Today, we continue to go above and beyond to live up to that reputation.

We proudly offer frozen pipe repair to Peabody, MA, residents. With years of industry-leading experience, we know how to keep outdoor water pipes from freezing—but also how to fix them if they do.

Contact us to schedule a frozen or burst pipe repair in Peabody, MA, today!

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