How to Keep Toilet Pipes From Freezing

What a grotesque situation it would be to have no water flowing out while you’re stuck on your toilet just because your toilet pipes are frozen. Don’t worry! I know all the ways to defrost your pipes, but wouldn’t it be better to know how to prevent them from freezing in the first place? That way, defrosting won’t be an issue!

To prevent toilet pipes from freezing, all you need is heat! The radiant heat will keep the pipes from freezing. However, there are various techniques to heat up to ensure the safety of your pipes. You can install heat cables along your pipes, insulate water pipes to trap extra heat or use a space heater to warm up your bathroom.

Let’s get into more specifics on how to prevent your toilet pipes from freezing, or if you already are facing the problem, let’s talk about how to thaw them.

What Causes Toilet Pipes to Freeze?

The frigid weather is the cause of frozen toilet pipes in your bathroom. If the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, you should take precautions to keep your toilet pipes from freezing because they are more prone to do so at that temperature.

a gauge indicating freezing temperature
Image from Forest Run Apartments

Plumbing pipes typically run through walls in houses. Consequently, it is crucial that your walls are properly insulated. This will prevent the pipes from freezing because the heat from houses will stay inside the walls.

While in other homes, the pipes are located in attics, which are generally poorly insulated and provide a greater risk of pipe freezing.

4 Ways to Prevent Toilet Pipes From Freezing

#1 Install Heating Cables Along Your Pipes

You can obtain a self-regulating heat cable for your toilet pipes. It will produce safe heat, ensuring that your pipes will not freeze.

Unfortunately, this approach will only be effective if your toilet pipes are situated in attics or crawl spaces. Because if the pipes are inside the walls, accessing them would require breaking the walls open.

#2 Invest in Pipe Insulation

Pipe insulation only functions if heating cables have already been installed. Your pipes are insulated so that when the heating cables warm them up, the insulated pipes will trap the heat and prevent it from escaping.

pipe insulation

Compared to heating a complete attic, it is less expensive and will lessen the possibility of pipes freezing.

#3 Heat Your Bathroom

To warm up your bathroom, utilize a space heater. If your toilet pipes are located in the walls, this solution is for you!

The space heater will heat up the entire bathroom, including the walls, keeping the pipes inside the walls from freezing.

#4 Insulate Exterior Walls

Since exterior walls are more prone to cold temperatures outside, you can insulate them to prevent pipes from freezing. This is a more expensive solution than the others, but it is also the most effective.

exterior wall insulation

Homeowners can hire professionals to insulate their walls for them, or they can do it themselves by using a thin layer of insulation.

#5 Winterize Your Toilet

If you must leave your home during the winter, using this tactic is advised. Winterizing your bathroom will keep the pipes from freezing even if you are away for an extended period of time.

To make this procedure work, you must first purchase a specialized plumber’s antifreeze, and then follow the steps below:

  1. Cut off the water supply to your toilet
  2. Detach the tank’s lid
  3. Flush the toilet to drain the water in the tank
  4. Fill the toilet tank with antifreeze
  5. Flush the toilet to flush the antifreeze through the toilet bowl and trap

This process will help the water in your toilet from freezing if the toilet remains unused.

However, if you flush again after flushing the antifreeze, the subsequent flush will remove the antifreeze from the system. Therefore, don’t do that!

If you need a detailed guide about the process, I have written a separate article on How to Winterize Your Toilet.

How to Defrost Your Frozen Toilet Pipes?

Here are some easy methods to defrost your frozen toilet pipes:

#1 Heat the Pipe Up

Turning on the faucet is the first step you must take to warm up your pipes. By doing this, you will be able to facilitate the flow of water once the ice has melted into a liquid.

Now, be careful not to use any source that has an open flame when heating the pipe because the fire could harm the pipes. To thaw the pipes with warm air instead, use a hair dryer or wrap a heating pad around them.

#2 Use Space Heaters

Despite your best efforts, your toilet pipes may still freeze during a cold snap. In this case, it is advised to heat the bathroom, which will warm the pipes inside the wall and eventually fix your issue!

However, be sure that you do not leave the space heater in the bathroom unsupervised when heating it up.

#3 Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain

This is yet another effective method for unfreezing frozen pipes. Heat up a pot with half a gallon of water in it. As soon as the water starts to boil, pour it down the drain.

The hot water will thaw the frozen pipes and restore them to their original operational condition.

Issues Due to Frozen Toilet Pipes

If your toilet pipes are frozen, you could encounter quite a few problems. When there is a buildup of pressure, the frozen toilet pipes may actually burst, releasing a flood of water and inflicting significant water damage. Having no water available for flushing can also be another hassle.

Pipes Burst

When the water in the pipes freeze, it creates pressure between the closed faucet and the blockage, causing the pipe to explode.

pipe burst
Image from Long Island Craftmaster Corporation

In such cases, the first thing you would want to do to prevent any further damage is to shut off the main water supply.

Clearly, you will then have to entrust the situation to a plumber who will repair the damaged pipes and stop any more damage from occurring.

No Water in the Tank to Flush

The water won’t be able to get to your toilet tank if the pipes are frozen. Because of this, flushing the toilet won’t be possible unless you do it yourself by using a bucket to pour water through.

Moreover, there are instances in which the water within the toilet bowl itself freezes. The waste and water are subsequently kept from entering the sewer lines.

How to Tell If Your Toilet Pipes Are Frozen?

Luckily, there are some signs you can look for to tell if your toilet pipes are frozen. Check for them before it’s too late.

#1 Toilet Won’t Flush

Your toilet’s pipes will not allow water to flow to the tank if they are frozen. As a result, if no water flushes out when you press the flush button, your toilet pipes may be frozen.

Here’s How to Fix a Toilet that will not Flush Due to Frozen Pipes?

#2 Water Line Expansion

bulge in water line
Image from Ace Inspections

If you notice a bulge in your water line and cracks in it, this indicates that the water inside has frozen. It’s also possible to see frost on them.

#3 Odd Odor

You need to look into the situation if you notice foul odors emanating from the drain, which is another indication of frozen toilet pipes. 

This occurs when the pipes become blocked, leaving the odors with nowhere else to go.


If you live in a region with extremely cold winters, don’t waste time and insulate your bathroom walls right away to prevent toilet pipe freezes!

If you still have a frozen pipe, don’t stress because you have all the information you need to defrost it.

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