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How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Frozen water pipes are a real pain for many residential owners in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Water freezing is pretty normal stuff during the winter, yet it is a different situation when it happens in a pipe. When water freezes, it expands. This causes tremendous pressure (over 2,000 pounds per square inch) inside. Such high pressures could rupture pipes, no matter the material!

Pipes that are most likely to freeze are:

  • Outdoor pipes like hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.
  • Pipes located in unheated interior areas. These include basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
  • Pipes in exterior walls that have little or no insulation.
Burst pipe due to freezing.

Consequences of Frozen Pipes

A frozen water pipe is like keeping a time bomb inside the house. At first, there would be no sign of water leaking from the pipes as ice blocks the water pipe.  The real catastrophe comes when temperatures begin to go up and the ice begins to thaw. The result is a flood, destroying and damaging walls, ceilings, and floors. 

Due to this, frozen pipes are among the most destructive and costly plumbing ordeals a homeowner could experience. Plumbing repairs during the winter have the potential to be very costly.

Thus, it is necessary to prevent frozen pipes before they can crack or burst and ruin your property. According to esurance.com, the average claim for water damage due to frozen pipes is about $15,000. According to a study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS),  about 250 gallons of water can drain per day from a one-eighth inch pipe crack.

An even worse case scenario is that the damaged area is not confined to where the leak first started. In multi-unit properties, water can travel to other units, increasing the cost in damages. The IBHS notes that homeowner claims on frozen pipe related repairs cost roughly twice as much as plumbing system failures.

Signs of Frozen Pipes

It is important to know the signs indicating frozen pipes, as they could be hard to locate at first. Faucets on the property produce a weak water flow or none at all during colder temperatures are a good clue.

If this happens, the homeowner must cut water to the faucet immediately and must leave the faucet open. To locate the blockage, follow the pipe from the faucet to where it runs. Search along the pipe for areas that have frost or ice and are bulging or fissured.

How to Prepare PLUMBING IN THE FALL

Prevention is the best solution for avoiding all sorts of problematic situations. This is especially true with plumbing.

I recommend getting in the habit of doing this during the Fall to protect your pipes from freezing:

  • Drain water from supply lines to the swimming pool and water sprinklers in the garden. Do not use antifreeze in these lines as they are very harmful to humans, pets, and the environment.
  • Drain and store outdoor hoses. Shut off inside valves on any hose bibs and open them to drain any water left in the lines. Leave the outside valve open, so any water left remaining can expand without damage to the pipes.
  • Insulate all piping located in attics, basements, crawl spaces, and any other unheated/low temp areas in your home. You must insulate both hot- and cold-water pipes if they’re located at such areas on your property.
  • Install pipe specific insulation products, such as pipe-sleeves, heat tapes, and heat cables. Additionally, newspapers can also provide some insulation and protection to exposed pipes.
  • Move exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
Installing plumbing insulation products like sleeves and covers can help protect exposed plumbing during the winter.

How to Deal with Frozen Pipes

If you discover any piping frozen, now is the time to act immediately to prevent them from cracking. Act fast to save your home from major flooding and water damages.

  • Remember to keep the faucet open, when repairs are ongoing. As the ice inside begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help it thaw.
  • Heat the frozen area of the pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe.  You can substitute a hair dryer, portable space heater, or a couple of hot towels to heat your pipes. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices.

When To Call a Plumbing Service?

Whether you could not locate the frozen piping, have no access to check, or unable to thaw, you’ll need a professional plumbing service to have your frozen pipes properly checked and repaired.

At True Service Plumbing, we can handle all your plumbing needs from frozen piping to clogged toilets. No matter the task – big or small. Reach out to us now for a easy hassle-free fix. True Service guaranteed!

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