Several people around the upper midwest are discovering first-hand the effects of an extremely harsh winter. Frozen water pipes. The coldest winter in decades has, in many cases, froze the pipe connecting the house to the water main underground, effectively shutting off the water supply to the residence.

To see if your home is at risk, test your water temp at home. If the water temperature is 39 degrees F. or less, it is recommended to leave water trickling from taps and spigots until the outdoor temperatures begin to rise.

According to the Associated Press, a record number of people have complained about frozen pipes, even homeowners who have been in the same residence for over 3 decades and have never had to deal with frozen pipes before.

The frost lines in South Dakota has already reached 30-40 inches below ground, while parts of North Dakota reporting near 50 inches in some colder areas.

The bad news for homeowners? The problems may persist for a while.

Plumbing professionals are staying busy with frozen and ruptured pipe calls. However, if you are a "do-it-yourselfer" you may want to grab a wrench and take a swing at it.

According to, this is how to thaw your pipes:

Preparing to Thaw the Pipe

1. Boil 2 gallons of water.

2. Either build, find, or purchase two lengths of pipe connected together at a 90-degree angle with an elbow. The diameter of this pipe must be smaller than that of the pipe which is frozen. This is your thaw pipe.

3. Using a pipe wrench, remove the fitting from the pipe that is frozen.

4. Place a bucket on the floor beneath the opening to the frozen pipe. You may also want to place towels or other cloths out to catch any excess or errant water.

Thawing the pipe:

5. Take the thaw pipe constructed in the previous section and insert one end into the frozen pipe. Make sure the other end of the thaw pipe is sticking straight up.

6. Place the funnel at the top end of the thaw pipe.

7. Pour boiling water into the thaw pipe.

8. As the ice inside the pipe melts, push the thaw pipe further into the pipe.

9. When the flow of water begins, remove the thaw pipe. Do not stop the flow of water until all of the ice is melted and the thaw pipe is out of the pipe.

For more help, watch Thaw and Prevent Frozen Water Pipes -- by Home Repair Tutor

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