Frozen Pipe Prevention & Replacement
Calling all GTA homeowners! Winter is looming.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about frozen pipes until it’s too late. By then, your pipes may have already frozen and burst, causing water damage to your home and costing you a lot of money in repairs.
So here’s to the homeowners suffering the wrath of frozen pipe bursts.
Mister Plumber is the friendly face who will show up on a snowy Thursday morning to save the day. We’re the go-to plumbing company for frozen pipe repair and replacement in the Greater Toronto Area.
How do I know if a frozen pipe has burst?
You’re sitting comfortably on your couch, about to put on a Christmas movie for the kids while you sip your morning coffee. All is well. Or is it? What’s going on behind the walls? Are you truly at peace? Here are six signs of frozen pipes that burst:
- There’s a sudden, loud noise coming from inside the walls.
- When you flush the toilet, the tank doesn’t refill.
- Water pressure is low, if it’s there at all.
- Faucets left dripping overnight aren’t running.
- Dark streaks and damp spots soon appear on your walls.
- Ceiling leaks from burst pipes.
If any of these things are happening in your home, it’s time to call Mister Plumber. We’re experts at frozen pipe repair and replacement, and we’ll have your home back to normal in no time.
⚠️ Take these steps if you have a frozen pipe burst
While calling in the professionals should always be your first step, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to prevent further damage.
- Find the shut-off valve for the pipe that has burst and turn off the water immediately. This will help to prevent further water damage to your home.
- Open all faucets connected to the frozen pipe so that as the pipe thaws, the water can begin to flow again. This will also help to prevent further damage and flooding.
- If your frozen pipes have caused flooding, remove any and all items from the area that may be damaged by the water. Also, check in with your electrical system to make sure there are no wet outlets or electrical wires. If there are, do not attempt to fix the issue yourself – call a professional immediately.
- Use a clamp repair kit (a rubber sleeve that can wrap around the damaged pipe and secure it with metal clamps) to stop water leakage and stabilize the burst pipe. After clamping, open the cold taps in the house to drain the remaining water and take pictures of all the affected areas before cleanup (so you have an accurate record of damages, which will come in handy with insurance claims and paperwork).
- Start drying and keep an eye on your ceilings. You can use old newspapers as an effective and cheap way to soak up the water – just stack them up and change them out as they get wet. Make sure to monitor your ceilings, since frozen burst pipe leaks build up slowly creating a dangerous situation. If there’s any bulging in your ceiling, make a small hole in the center of the area and let the water drain into a bucket.
Why do frozen pipes happen? *(Hint: not just because it’s “cold.”)
- If your pipes were installed inside of an exterior wall (which is a code violation), then they are more susceptible to freezing. This is because the pipes are closer to the outside temperature, and therefore more likely to freeze when the weather dips below freezing.
- Lack of insulation – both in the walls and around the pipes themselves – is another big reason for frozen pipes. If your home isn’t properly insulated, heat can escape, causing the surrounding temperature to drop and putting your pipes at risk of freezing.
- Turned-off or ineffective heating system – if your heating system isn’t working properly (e.g., poor ventilation or a cracked heat exchanger), it can cause the temperature in your home to drop below freezing, which puts your pipes at risk of freezing as well. Make sure your heating is automated if you’re planning to go on vacation. Set the temperature no lower than 12°C to prevent your pipes from freezing while you’re away.
- Sudden cold snap. Even if your home is well-insulated, a sharp drop in temperature can cause your pipes to freeze. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on the weather forecast and take precautions (like leaving your faucets dripping) if a cold snap is expected.
Squashing 5 common frozen pipe myths
- Pipes don’t always freeze when it’s cold outside – If there’s no water in the pipes (e.g., if they’ve been turned off for the winter), then they can’t freeze. It’s the water that freezes and weakens the pipe – no matter if you have copper, PVC, or galvanized steel pipes.
- Pipe bursts aren’t always loud! – A frozen pipe can burst with enough force to cause significant damage, but it doesn’t always make a loud noise – or at least, you won’t always hear it from the attic, basement, or if the TV is on.
- Boiling water doesn’t work. This is a dangerous myth that can cause serious burns. Never pour boiling water on a frozen pipe, as it can cause the pipe to rupture.
- Ice doesn’t “burst” pipes in the way you think it does – While ice damages a pipe, the actual burst happens after the water thaws and slams through the pipe with enormous pressure. Why does this matter? Because it means that you can’t just fix a frozen pipe by “thawing” it out. That’s why a hairdryer won’t help – if the pipe is already damaged, these tools can cause further damage by overheating or igniting the combustible materials around the pipe (e.g., insulation).
- Don’t put round insulation on the pipes inside of the exterior wall – remember that the insulation itself doesn’t produce heat, so it can’t actually keep your pipes from freezing. If relocating the water pipes to the interior wall of the basement isn’t possible, then they should at least be moved to the inner edge of the wall (just behind the drywall) and insulation applied behind the pipes only for a code-compliant, safe, and heated space.
How to prevent pipes from freezing: What you can do as a homeowner
You may not be able to control Toronto’s freezing wind chills, single-digit temperatures, or sudden cold snaps – but there are several things you can do to protect your home (and your pipes) from the cold.
- Let warm air circulate by leaving cabinet doors open under sinks.
- Keep the thermostat between 10-15 degrees.
- Let all the hot and cold water faucets drip – especially at night.
- Outside faucets should be drained and wrapped, and hoses should be disconnected and drained.
- Insulate your basement, attic, garage, and exterior walls.
Let Mister Plumber professionally handle your frozen pipe bursts – Get a FREE consultation today.
Worried about frozen pipe bursts this winter? Mister Plumber is here to help. We offer a FREE consultation to assess the situation and provide options for repair or replacement.
Get professional frozen pipe repair or replacement by calling us at +1 416 939 1530 or via the contact form.