Preventing & Thawing Frozen Pipes: What You Need to Know
Just like you need to bundle up for cold weather, your property needs special care in winter. Cold temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze and possibly burst. Water expands when it freezes and the extra volume and pressure can cause your pipes to rupture. Pipe rupture commonly happens between where the ice is formed and a faucet.
Warning signs that your pipes are likely frozen
The water barely comes out of the faucet.
Odours come from faucets or drains.
Exposed pipes are frosty.
Pipes that most likely get frozen are:
Pipes that are exposed such as outdoor hose bibs, and water sprinkler lines.
Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas.
Pipes that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation.
How to Prevent Frozen Pipes
Thoroughly check around your property to find areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Garage(s), and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be investigated.
Clean it up and organize
Remove and store hoses used outdoors. Open the outside hose bibs so that water will drain. Keep the outside valve open: This way, water remaining in the pipe can only expand without bursting the pipe.
This basic thing can be of solid value. Add insulation to crawl spaces, attics, as well as basements. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these highly vulnerable areas. Make sure you insulate both hot and cold water pipes in any unheated areas.
You may want to consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes. Products such as "pipe sleeves", "heat tape," "heat cables," or similar materials on exposed water pipes will reduce the risk of them freezing. In emergency situations, you can use newspapers as a stopgap.
Cover crawl spaces
Temporarily seal any crawl spaces. Foam cut to the size of the vents will work wonderfully. This simple covering can dramatically reduce the amount of cold air getting into the crawlspace, eventually reducing the risk of pipes freezing.
Put "sleeves" on exposed pipes
Drip, drip, drip
Let faucets connected to exposed pipes drip with cold water. Even if it is a small trickle of water, it can prevent the pipes from freezing.
Do not turn off or lower the thermostat too much
Even if the space is unused, it is highly recommended to keep the thermostat at 12 degrees Celsius or higher.
What to do if your pipes are frozen
If any frozen pipes have already burst, call a plumber/restoration technician immediately. Here are some basic tips you can try if the issue is not serious.
Turn the water off at the main shutoff valve.
Turn on the faucet to let the water flow. Running water will help melt ice in the pipe.
Apply heat to the section of the pipe. You can use a portable space heater (Make sure you keep it away from any flammable materials), a hairdryer, or an electrical heating pad. Never use any open flame device such as a blowtorch, kerosene, or propane heater.
If you are either unable to locate the frozen area or it is not accessible, call a licensed professional immediately.