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Frozen Pipe Thawing

Canadian winters can be especially harsh on your plumbing, as they bring with them the possibility of frozen pipes. Pipes can freeze whenever the ambient temperature drops below 0℃, which is essentially guaranteed during an Ontario winter. Pipes located outside are the most at risk of freezing, as they can be directly exposed to the elements. Pipes located in unheated areas of the home internally can also freeze, such as those in the basement, crawl space and attic.

Frozen pipes not only stop your faucets from working properly, they can also lead to burst pipes. As the water in the pipe freezes, its expands and exerts up to 3000 psi on the pipe. This is enough pressure to cause all types of pipe to crack, which then leads to a burst pipe. A single burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars of water damage in minutes once water starts flowing. If your pipes burst, calling an experienced local plumber is essential.

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How Do I Thaw A Frozen Pipe?

It is possible to thaw your own pipes should you experience a freeze during winter. How you proceed will depend on whether you suspect the pipe is accessible or buried.

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Accessible frozen pipe

  1. Identify the pipe which is frozen. You can do this by turning on faucets and observing whether there is little to no water coming out. If you faucet has no water, the frozen pipe is likely connected to this faucet
  2. Open the faucet fully as the increased incoming water pressure will encourage melting ice to dislodge.
  3. Wrap towels soaked in boiling water round the frozen pipe taking care not to burn yourself.
  4. Alternatively, you can attach electric heating tape directly to the faucet if it is located near a power outlet. A hairdryer on maximum heat setting also works well.
  5. You should always begin near the faucet and work your way down to prevent excessive pressure build up.
  6. Once the ice has been cleared, open the faucet and run water for several minutes to check whether any leaks have occured. If there is any leaking water you will need to either patch or replace the pipe immediately.
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Inaccessible frozen pipe

  1. Locate the pipe you believe to be frozen, possibly behind a wall or buried underground.
  2. If your pipe is internally located, turn up the heating in the property to at least 27℃. This will help melt the ice indirectly when you cannot reach the pipe.
  3. Using an infrared heater is another option. Aim the heater at the section of wall the pipe is located behind and leave it running until the ice has thawed.
  4. A more drastic solution is to remove the section of wall covering the pipe and attempt to thaw it directly. This can be labour intensive and costly.
  5. Once the ice has thawed, run the water for a few minutes to see if you can hear any leaking or see any water damage appearing. If this is the case, you will need to call an experienced plumber as soon as possible.
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Inaccessible frozen pipe

  1. Locate the pipe you believe to be frozen, possibly behind a wall or buried underground.
  2. If your pipe is internally located, turn up the heating in the property to at least 27℃. This will help melt the ice indirectly when you cannot reach the pipe.
  3. Using an infrared heater is another option. Aim the heater at the section of wall the pipe is located behind and leave it running until the ice has thawed.
  4. A more drastic solution is to remove the section of wall covering the pipe and attempt to thaw it directly. This can be labour intensive and costly.
  5. Once the ice has thawed, run the water for a few minutes to see if you can hear any leaking or see any water damage appearing. If this is the case, you will need to call an experienced plumber as soon as possible.
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How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

As with all plumbing emergencies, preventing them from happen instead of fixing them after they have arising is always the better option. There are several simple ways to prevent frozen pipes in your home.

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Insulation

Ensure your pipes, both internal and external, are properly insulated and protected from the cold. This can be in insulation applied directly to the pipes or through extra insulation for the entire home.

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Remove external hoses

If you have a sprinkler system or a hose for gardening, make sure it is properly drained and bring it inside during the fall. This will prevent those external pipes from freezing and potentially damaging your internal pipes in the process.

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Winterize your holiday home

If you do not plan on using your holiday home over the winter, it is essential to properly prepare it for the colder months. Turn off the main water line and run all faucets in the property until they run dry. Check your water heater is in good working order and won’t likely leak over the winter.

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We Specialize In
Thawing Frozen Pipes

Drain Clear has been helping Southern Ontario residents thaw their pipes for over 25 years. We are experts is effective plumbing winterization, and our top priority is customer satisfaction. Our dedicated team will identify the frozen pipe and thaw it quickly and efficiently. They will then perform a comprehensive pipe health analysis to determine whether any leaks have occured. Should any pipes have burst, our entire fleet is fully stocked will all major brands and tools to get the job done immediately. We know peace of mind is important to our customers. That’s why we only staff licensed and insured local plumbers and guarantee our work for a year.

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