Unfreezing Your Frozen Pipes

Winterizing your pipes is a good plan when you live in an area where freezing conditions are a normal winter condition.  Frozen pipes are a major inconvenience; frozen pipes that burst can cause catastrophic damage.  You can protect your pipes and property during freezing weather conditions with a few simple steps.

The physics of frozen water

Water expands as it freezes.  This expansion places immense pressure on “containment structure” – the metal or plastic pipes, and can cause the pipes to break.

Plumbers Victoria BC are often called to fix burst exterior pipes.  They know that outdoor hose bibs, pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, lines in unheated interior areas, and any poorly insulated lines located along exterior walls are all vulnerable to freezing conditions.

When the pipes are frozen

When your pipes are frozen, the most likely locations are where water enters your house.

Thawing frozen pipes takes patience and careful action.  Plumbing Victoria BC professionals recommend the following steps:

  • Keep the faucet open so that water can flow as the frozen area begins to melt.
  • Apply heat.  Wrap an electric heating pad around the pipe, or use an electric hair dryer or a portable space heater to warm the pipe.

o   Aim the heat stream in the vicinity of the pipe; don’t focus the heat from a hair dryer or heater directly on the pipe.

o   NEVER use a blowtorch, charcoal stove, kerosene or propane heater to thaw frozen pipes!

  • Keep applying heat until full water pressure is restored.
  • If you can’t locate the frozen pipe or it is inaccessible, call a plumber.
  • Check every faucet in your home:  there may be more than one frozen pipe.

Protect your pipes

It isn’t always possible or feasible to relocate exposed pipes to protect them from future freezing.  But there are some basic steps you can take to protect pipes from freezing and breaking.

  • Insulate –crawl spaces, attics, and basement, outside taps and pipes (including drain and overflow pipes).
  • Leave the heating system on at all times during cold spells.
  • Make sure that all leaks and dripping taps are repaired before cold weather sets in.
  • Remove outdoor hoses before winter.
  • Wrap or place hose bib covers over each bib.
  • When freezing conditions are expected, let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes.  Even a small trickle helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Leave the heat on in your home (set no lower than 55°F / 12.7°C) when you are away during cold weather.

If you are an inexperienced home owner or renter, consider hiring a plumbing Victoria BC professional to evaluate the current condition of the plumbing, show you preventive steps to protect the pipes during freezing weather, and how to shut off water in case of a plumbing emergency.

Plumbers Victoria BC are experienced at handling frozen and burst pipes.  Be sure you keep their contact information easily accessible and call one of these professionals if a pipe bursts.

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