Thawing Our Creeks’ Culvert

So I brought out the big guns… I fixed my tiger torch. 200,000 btu baby! Booya!





We have been having a problem. These years with less snow fall early on in the winter result in deeper frost penetration during the following cold snaps. For us this means a frozen culvert on our creek.

This year we had it freeze solid at the end three times, had it been placed properly originally there would be no issues. Ours is at a good elevation where the creek enters it but it doesn’t follow the creek bed. Had it been laid properly it would have it’s bottom in the creek bed for the whole length of the pipe rather than terminating in a two foot waterfall like ours. This would help keep the end warm, ours freezes. A way to remedy this would be to re-dig the pipe in and perhaps size up the pipe as well. The temporary fix is to plow snow over the end to help insulate it but this year we didn’t have a lot and I left the end uncovered. So here I will share my tips for thawing a culvert.

The first time it happened I took a six foot crow bar and chipped my way in as far as I could until I had a long cone chiseled in to the icy pipe. Since I was unable to get the water moving with the chipping alone I dug out one of my old 30 minute road flares. I shoved this as far up the pipe as I could and voila, I got running water!

The second time I kept my eye on it and just chipped it free before it got too bad, but the third time it caught me off guard a month later and froze up really bad. Not only did I chip it as far as possible but I used another flare and it didn’t do it either. *Note for the future, put something to raise it up so that the melt run off doesn’t quench the lower half of your flare! haha. So I brought out the big guns… I fixed my tiger torch. 200,000 btu baby! Booya! lol. This melted it through with out any nasty flare smoke or further chipping. It saved my but.

If I don’t get my culvert flowing when this happens soon my creek backs up, over flows it’s banks and would eventually wash out my driveway and part of the main road. The chipping out as far as you can really helps get you in there and the torch finishes the job well. I have had to go over two feet into the pipe to get flow again. It sucks but can be fixed, soon I hope to redo the pipes trench right and be done with that nonsense!

Good luck with your water next winter and keep a keen eye out for troubles, catching them early makes for a lot less work. ~Scott