Administrator: don’t use blow torch to thaw pipes

FILE - In this Feb. 3, 2011 file photo, ice coats leaking pipes in a downtown Cleveland alley, in Ohio. With much of the nation gripped in record cold at some point this winter, homeowners have had to deal with pipes freezing, and then bursting. Damage from a burst pipe can vary greatly, depending on the amount of time that the water runs unabated. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

BELLAIRE — The weather may be warming up, for now, but here’s a warning for when it freezes again — don’t use a blow torch to thaw out frozen pipes.

Bellaire Village Administrator Scott Porter said during a recent council meeting that municipal workers have been dealing with calls related to bursting waterlines and frozen pipes. He said he wanted to warn people against using blow torches to thaw frozen pipes because a resident recently was injured doing so.

“Blow torches are not the way. We’ve already had one lady burnt. She heated up the line, and the steam separated the connection and burned her,” Porter said. “Plus it can burn the house down.”

He said the best methods to thaw pipes may include using a hair dryer, blankets or heat tape.

According to the American Red Cross, when water freezes it expands, putting pressure on pipes made of any material. To help prevent pipes from freezing, one may need to add more insulation to their attic, basement or crawl spaces to maintain a higher temperature.

To thaw a pipe, the Red Cross recommends keeping a faucet open.

“As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe,” the agency notes.

The Red Cross also states that people should not use any sort of open flame, such as blow torch or kerosene heater or propane heater, to thaw pipes. However, a portable electric space heater, if kept away from flammable materials, can be used.

According to, if one’s electric power goes off during the winter or if one is going on an extended trip, it is best to drain one’s pipes to keep them from bursting.

“To drain, turn off the water heater and main water supply, open all faucets in the house and drain the system by keeping the valves open. Drain all toilets by holding the lever down until the tank empties. If well water is used, the pump’s electric switch should be shut off and the pressure tank and system should be drained,” according to the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness.