It’s been made pretty clear already that Winter is coming to the Lower Mainland. It’s November 2021 and temperatures are dropping, storms are brewing and we’re already scraping frost off our windshields! As Coquitlam plumbers that service the entire Lower Mainland these are all the common signs leading up to an influx in frozen pipes across homes and businesses in B.C. The worst part about frozen pipes is that they’re avoidable. In this blog we’re going to help you understand frozen pipes, how to avoid them and what to do if you experience one.
Why Frozen Pipes Happen
When it comes to why frozen pipes occur, it’s about as simple as it sounds. It gets cold in the Winter! Freezing temperatures won’t just freeze the puddles outside, pipes in the interior and exterior of your home can freeze too. Piping is also commonly found inside your walls too, closer to the cold outside air rather than your toasty kitchen.
Pipes that are at risk of freezing should be insulated. If for any reason you have piping that is not insulated but is in an at-risk place like your garage or storage space, you need to have it insulated before Winter hits! Even if your piping is insulated and you know it, Mr. Swirl highly recommends checking on it before cold temperatures come. Insulation could get damaged or rot and it never hurts to just check on it.
One of the reasons you really want to avoid a frozen pipe, is because they will very often lead to a burst pipe. When the pipe begins to melt one way or another, the pressure of the water breaking through whatever ice is left will be so strong that it bursts the pipe wide open. This is obviously a huge problem because suddenly, you’ve got a big leak and water damage ensuing.
Frozen Pipe Prevention
As we just mentioned, the best way to avoid a frozen pipe is to first assess your pipes before every Winter. Pay attention to insulated areas and make sure they are effectively being insulated against the cold.
A lot of frozen pipes happen when homeowners go away on vacation. This happens because the usual house care going on, just isn’t happening. Your heat will be lower than normal, sinks are not in use and nobody is around to catch a problem. However, there are lots of things you can do to protect your pipes before you leave.
Before you head off on your tropical holiday, don’t turn your thermostat completely off. Keeping the thermostat at 13 degrees Celsius or higher is a very effective way to keep your pipes warm enough so that they won’t freeze. In addition, keep all your inside doors open and even open bathroom and kitchen cupboards so that the flow of hot air is not restricted, and your pipes stay as warm as possible.
Another thing you can do before you leave the house for awhile is turn off the water to your house, and drain out the entire system. To do this, you’ll need to know how to turn off the water to your house, which you should know in case of an emergency. Once your water is shutoff using the main water shutoff valve, just open up all the taps and fixtures around the house. Let all the water flow out until it won’t anymore. If there’s no water coming out, there’s no water in the pipe and nothing to freeze and cause damage.
What to do When you Have a Frozen Pipe
So, it’s the middle of winter, snow is on the ground and you’re about to make yourself a warm tea. You go to fill the kettle, and instead of the rush of water, you get a burst then slow drips. You check underneath the sink, feel your pipes and quickly realize they’re frozen, what do you do next?
What you should immediately do, is turn off the main water line right away! Having more water in the pipe will only allow the ice to grow and pressure to increase leading to a probable burst. If you do not know how to shut off your main water line, call Mr. Swirl right away and have us locate and shut off your water.
If you managed to get your water off, we recommend calling Mr. Swirl the Friendly Plumber to come fix whatever the issue might be. You will be left without water anywhere in the house, but we’re open 24/7 to get out there as soon as possible and get you back up and running.
There are a few self-remedies to thaw out the pipe, but remember if you simply thaw it out without addressing the bigger problem it might just freeze again. We do seriously recommend having a professional plumber come to diagnose the real problem and prevent another freeze incoming, however, there are a few ways to thaw out a pipe in a pinch.
One way to thaw a pipe is simply to crank your thermostat. Put your furnace or heat pump to the test and make it hot and sweaty in the house. This will only work with an exposed pipe, so check in on it and carefully run your fixture when you know the frozen area is melted. Another way to try and thaw out an exposed pipe is by wrapping it in hot clothes and towels. This is a great method to thaw a pipe, but always use caution when turning your water back on.
If the pipe is behind a wall, you’re looking at cutting drywall and doing some serious work. At this point we’d seriously urge you to call Mr. Swirl the Friendly Plumber. You’ll need our professional plumbing knowledge to find out why it froze in the first place and cutting into your wall is a lot of damage to create just to thaw it out until next cold snap.
It’s safe to say that frozen pipes are a huge pain in the butt! With Winter well on its way to the Lower Mainland and we want you to start preparing early this year. If you do happen to run into a frozen pipe this Winter and you’re locating in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Langley or anywhere else in the Lower Mainland, Metro Vancouver Area or Fraser Valley, give us a ring 24/7 at 604-435-4664. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Winter full of joy and no frozen pipes!