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Super Handyman: Have a frozen pipe? Here’s what to do

’Tis the season … for frozen pipes! There are some great ways to prevent this from happening. Foam insulation works pretty well, and heat tape can be used if that is not sufficient. But if you didn’t take care of these chores before winter set in, then you’re going to need to know how to deal with frozen pipes. Here are some tried-and-true methods that you can try BEFORE preventing it from happening again.

A frozen pipe is not the end of the world, but, when it thaws, it can sure seem like it. The steam that builds up inside the pipe as it thaws can cause the pipe to burst. You need to try to release the pressure before it gets to that point. Open nearby faucets wherever you can.

The best way to thaw a pipe is to do it slowly so that the pressure doesn’t build too quickly. Sometimes you raising the temperature around the pipe will take care of the problem. If the pipe is in a closed closet, basement or cabinet, just open it up. You might also set a heat lamp or small space heater near it, not too close, though.

Using a hair dryer directed at the pipe and kept moving can help thaw it out. It’s best to keep it on a low setting so it doesn’t get too hot too fast, again, which might cause the pipe to burst.

The same heat tape that can prevent freezing, also can be added to thaw a pipe out after it has frozen.

A heating pad, normally used to melt aches and pains, can be wrapped around a frozen pipe.

Remember to go slow and also keep electrical connections away from water. Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, leaks will happen, so be prepared with towels, a wet/dry shop vacuum and a good sponge mop handy. And, unless you really enjoyed this process, you might want to find the time to do some preventive work in the near future.


Q: I need to find a way to remove some sap from my driveway. It’s coming from the trees that overhang the area. I’ve tried sweeping it off, soap and water and even a power washer. What else can I try? – W.T.

A: I’m surprised the power washer didn’t do the trick. If you need a little more help, try mineral spirits paint thinner as the sap might dissolve easier with this. Once you get the drive clean, apply a water seal once a year to keep it from absorbing the sap.

A Super hint

Etching glass is pretty easy to do these days. Get a small piece of contact paper, draw or trace your design on it and then cut away the design. Place the paper on the glass and apply the etching cream, available at your hobby store, and allow it to do its thing. When complete, you pull off the contact paper and see.


The Quiki Window Control Adapter is a super-simple way to control older double-hung windows that no longer stay open because of a broken sash cord. This small hinge, 1¼-inch wide and 6 inches long, is easy to install with just a couple of screws in a standard window track. It snaps back into the track when you want to close the window and snaps open to hold the window open. Small windows will need one but larger windows will require two, and they are sold two to a package. It looks a lot better than what you have been using! Check it out at