It’s Freezing: How to Get Ahead of Burst and Frozen Pipes This Winter

7 Jan

As a homeowner, there are a lot of things to think about and take care of in order to keep your abode truly home sweet home. The fact is, it’s not just all about the feeling, but also getting all the parts to work. One of the most common horrors that homeowners in Canada deal with is broken or frozen pipes, especially in the winter.

Luckily, with some early preventative work on your part, you won’t have to frantically book emergency plumbing services when it’s too late. After all, when you’re a homeowner, you are also responsible for keeping your pipes insulated and protected—and there’s no landlord to call for help getting your house back in order.

Check out our effective guide to reducing the risk of broken and frozen pipes in your home, so you won’t have to deal with the hassle of an untimely plumbing emergency.

How to Avoid Burst Pipes at Home

  1. Turn off your outdoor spigots

If there’s one component of a plumbing system that is at most risk of freezing and bursting in the winter cold, it’s the outdoor spigots. To prevent this, make sure to turn off the water valve to the spigot, so you won’t have to worry about freezing water bursting your pipework. Having trouble keeping spigots closed or not sure how they work? Ask our professional plumbers for their go-to tricks!

  1. Keep the faucet running

Don’t worry—we’re not looking to rack up your hydro bill! On especially cold days, it actually helps to leave even just one sink on a very slow drip. This keeps water flowing in the pipes, as opposed to freezing off and bursting as a result.

  1. Drain excess water

One of the most common problems that plagues pipework is excess water. Unlike leaving the faucet on a slow drip, this one is a bit more complicated. A professional plumber can drain excess water from your pipes by attaching a hose to a sill cock or basement faucet and opening faucets and flushing toilets one at a time, starting from the top floor and working their way down. When flushing toilets, plumbers will typically remove the toilet tank cover and flush until all of the water drains.

  1. Take care of outdoor-facing pipes

A lot of sinks are designed with pipework on an outdoor-facing wall and sealed off by under-the-sink cupboards, and yours is most likely one of them. Unfortunately, this means that pipes are not as insulated and heated as they should be, and are at higher risk of freezing and bursting. To keep pipes heated and in good condition throughout a Canadian winter, plumbers recommend opening cabinet doors once in a while to allow adequate heat from the rest of your house to flow into this hidden corner.

  1. Keep pipes fluid

The moment water can’t freely flow through pipes, you know you have a problem. To avoid having frozen pipes that will eventually burst, call a professional plumber to help out. A plumber can use cable ties to secure pipe heating cables, especially in areas that require extra heat to maintain fluid pipes.

How to Deal With Burst Pipes

Sometimes, no matter how much you follow simple precautions to extend the life of your pipework, they can still break due to regular wear-and-tear or some emergency. When this happens, it’s important to call our professional plumbing services and get the help you need to restore your house immediately.

A professional plumber will take these steps to prevent further damage and repair the burst pipes:

  • Turn off the main stopcock of the plumbing system
  • Open all cold taps to allow the system to drain, especially if water continues to flow
  • If a pipe from the storage tank bursts, your plumber will have to turn off the stop valve in the tank and open all hot taps to allow the system to drain and the fire to safely burn out
  • If the burst pipe is in the storage tank and you’re still waiting for the plumber to arrive, your best bet is to turn off the heating to avoid an uncontrollable fire

Prevent Indoor Pipes From Freezing

Did you know that indoor pipework is at risk of freezing just as much as outdoor pipes? To avoid this, our plumbers recommend taking these easy-to-follow precautions that can go a long way in keeping pipes free from obstruction:

  • Deal with pipes in exposed or draughty areas with foam insulation; long strips can easily be trimmed to fit the pipework and wrap the pipes
  • Ask your plumber where the tap valve or internal stop is—usually it’s under the kitchen sink—and how to turn it off, for future reference
  • If your house has a trap door to the roofspace, leave it open for warm air to circulate, as this helps to avoid pipes from freezing
  • Make sure to turn off all taps properly

Additionally, if you’re still using a gas, electric, or paraffin heater in your home’s roof-space, it’s time to consider making a change; these can potentially damage plumbing mechanisms, especially when a burst pipe results in a fire.

How to Deal With a Frozen Pipe ASAP

Unfortunately, the winter cold really is unpredictable, and sometimes, no matter how well you take precautions to avoid pipes from freezing, it still happens. When it does, it’s important that you know how to deal with this plumbing nightmare.

One of the most basic techniques that you can use is thawing. Place hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe, working your way from the pipes closest to the tap to the surrounding areas. An important precaution to keep in mind is to avoid using a naked flame. Exposing these fixtures to a fire may sound like the quickest way to warm them up, but that can lead to disastrous results.

Not the DIY type?

Most good plumbers recommend familiarizing yourself with the basics of your home’s water supply system. After all, you are your home’s first line of defense in emergencies. Simply knowing where to find the main stopcock to turn off the water supply can go a long way in preventing further damage when pipes freeze or burst, so you can safely wait for a professional plumber to repair the system.

For more information about protecting your plumbing from freezing, call Brothers Plumbing at ​888-950-3818 today or get in touch with us here.

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