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What to Do If You Have Frozen Pipes

Have you ever woken up early on a freezing winter morning, went to turn on the tap and nothing happens?

If you haven’t, you’re lucky. And if you have, you probably already knew what the problem was: frozen pipes. Some homeowners in the Toronto area probably recognize this situation all too well, since winter weather here will frequently dip well below 0℃ through the winter.

Prepping your pipes ahead of time is much easier than getting stuck in the cold, so it’s best to get this done early in the fall. Here are some pro tips on prepping and thawing your pipes.

How Do You Know That Your Pipes are Prone to Freezing?

Obviously the colder the climate, the higher chance that your pipes can freeze. But this also depends on how everything in the house is structured and the location of the pipes.

Here are some situations that might make your space more vulnerable to frozen pipes.

  • Uninsulated pipes
  • Exterior pipes
  • Pipes in rooms or parts of the home that are not insulated
  • Pipes made of copper or galvanized steel
  • Connectors on washing machines and other appliances

Preventing Frozen Pipes

If you know or even suspect that your pipes may be vulnerable to freezing, you should take steps to prevent this well before you think it might freeze, especially if you live or vacation in a continental climate where temperature fluctuations tend to be more dramatic and unpredictable.

First, you should check what kind of pipes you have. Copper and galvanized steel pipes can corrode easily, and polybutylene pipes should be replaced. Be sure to check all outdoor areas for hoses and thoroughly drain and store them before the cold weather hits. You can open outdoor spigots and close the valves on the inside parts of these pipes.

Look for “vulnerable” pipes in inside parts of the house. You can insulate them with foam, special pipe sleeves, heat tape, or a number of other products. It’s also a good idea to add extra insulation to indoor areas with exposed pipes, such as attics and basements. Be sure to leave the thermostat on at a steady temperature. And last but definitely not least: leave your faucets on (at least the ones connected to the pipes most prone to freezing) running at a trickle at night.

What to Do If Your Pipes are Frozen

Don’t panic! It can seem like a daunting situation but it’s important that you know you’ll be okay, and that trusted help is just around the corner. Until you can get a plumber, the main thing you need to do is shut off the main water valve that controls the pipe(s) in question.

If you can access the pipe easily, you can try to thaw it yourself, but be careful: if you thaw the wrong part too quickly, the pipe could burst. Make sure that the connecting faucets are open and start the thawing process close to the faucet. Use a hair dryer, space heater or hot towels while you slowly and deliberately work your way down the pipe.

Thawing frozen pipes in Toronto can not only be tricky but even dangerous if you don’t do it right, so it’s best to call in a pro rather than handle it yourself. Drain Rescue Plumbers has friendly, licensed plumbing professionals available 24-7 around the Greater Toronto Area.

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