Frozen pipes are the bane of many Toronto homeowners’ existence. A small amount of ice can cause a pipeline to shut off, interrupting normal usage and it can burst, when the frozen water expands by approximately 9% in volume beyond the confines of the pipe. Pressure inside your pipes can increase from a mere forty pounds per square inch to as much as forty thousand pounds per square inch, which is much more than any pipe can hold. That’s when pipes break.
Frozen pipes don’t always break at the point where the ice is located, but it can burst wherever there is a weak spot on the line. This makes it difficult for a layperson to locate the break.
But even worse is when temperatures return to less extreme figures and the ice starts to thaw, pouring huge amounts of water into the home. Not only does this waste a precious resource, but it can also lead to major property damage as it pours on your floors, furniture and other belongings.
The best way to deal with freezing pipes, is to prevent it in the first place. Proper winterization goes a long way to keeping your plumbing in good working order. However, winterization is not always enough, as Toronto’s frigid temperatures continue to find ways to surprize us.
When your pipes are frozen, it is crucial to avoid using direct open flame on the pipes. Dangerous practices include using candles or blowtorches to try thaw frozen pipes and this often leads to injuries and house fires.
So what can be done when your pipes are frozen?
When you notice that the flow in your faucets is reduced to a trickle, it is one of the first signs that your pipes might be frozen. Ideally, you should take the following actions as soon as a cold snap is forecasted:
1.Close the garage door to keep heat from escaping from the house.
2.Open vulnerable faucets to a slow drip to keep water moving inside the pipes.
3.Open the cabinet or vanity doors under the sink so that warm air from inside the home can reach the pipes.
4.Turn up the home’s heat.
5.Use heating fans or space heaters to bring warm air into cold rooms.
6.Place heated towels on vulnerable pipes in crawl spaces or basements near exterior walls.
7.Apply heating tape to the exposed or vulnerable pipes.
If you have tried everything above, but your pipes are still frozen, you may want to consider calling in the professionals. A licensed plumber will be able to locate the problem area and use professional methods to quickly thaw your frozen pipe before it bursts.
If your pipes freeze during every cold snap, it may be time to find a more permanent solution. Options include insulating vulnerable pipes crawl spaces, and upgrading your outdoor faucets by replacing them with frost-proof models. In severe cases, you will probably save money by considering rerouting your pipes away from cold areas in your home. A master plumber from Anta Plumbing will be able to provide a professional assessment and recommend the best course of action for your specific needs.