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Help! My Pipes Are Frozen! Tips and Tricks to Unfreeze your Pipes

As we settle into the cold winter months, one of the dangers of the plummeting temperatures is that your pipes can freeze. Unfortunately, the result isn`t just about having frozen pipes and its effect on the water in them; the fact that water expands when it freezes means that if your pipes get frozen, they can end up splitting or breaking. And that can mean at the least re-decorating, or maybe having to deal with damp or even having to replace walls, ceilings or floors.

It is, therefore, important that homeowners do what they can to prevent frozen pipes or to be able to thaw frozen water pipes as quickly as possible.The most important thing in dealing with frozen pipes prevention and cure is to know where your pipes are. By understanding where your pipes run, and where they are most exposed to the cold, you will be able to help look after and unfreeze them if you need to – before it`s too late.

Tips to Thaw Frozen Water Pipes

  • You can unfreeze frozen pipes which are in a confined space – such as a cupboard or cabinet with a space heater. Just leave it in the place for a few minutes until the pipes have thawed.  Keep an eye on the space heater at all times - you do not want water (from condensation or a burst pipe) dripping on it.
  • Another good method of unfreezing frozen pipes is with a hair dryer. Gently blow the warm air onto the frozen area until the ice has melted.
  • Or you can heat a frozen metal pipe with a heat lamp which you can direct at the frozen area.
  • You can use electric heating cables to help to keep the pipes from freezing in the first place – make sure that you read the instructions first though as electricity and water can be a dangerous mix! Ensure that you also use the right electrical tape for heating your pipes.

Tips to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

  • Frost-free sillcocks are a great alternative to the traditional hose bibs, meaning that you can avoid freezing in this area.  Have a professional plumber install a frost free sillcock if you do not feel you are up to the job. There are special steps you need to take to ensure they do not freeze and burst during cold days, such as the pipe always sloping slightly down towards the outside.
  • So many people try to save money by closing the heating vents in unused rooms for their house during winter.  If these rooms have water pipes in them, they are at risk of freezing.  Poorly insulated cold rooms can also develop condensation on the walls, forming mould.  
  • Insulate your pipes with a pipe insulation. This won`t necessarily prevent the pipes from freezing but will slow down the process in cold temperatures.
  • If your pipe is frozen and looks like it has split, call a plumber and turn off the water at the mains before you try to thaw it.
  • Try to keep your pipes as dry as possible (on the outside) as ice on the outside of the pipes can cool the water inside and cause them to freeze quicker.
  •  If you have no electric power, keep the water running at a constant slow drip to keep the water moving. While this may be `wasting` water, the wastage will probably be less than a leaking pipe.

Dealing with the prevention and thawing of frozen pipes can be a headache, but it is an important part of being a homeowner. By looking after your pipes properly, you can ensure that no substantial damage is done to them. If you have any doubts or queries about your specific pipes, contact our Oakville Plumbers today we will be able to give you good, specific advice on avoiding any problems.