Frozen Pipes

How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

The winter chill is biting harder than ever, with temperatures set to plummet below -10℃ this next week. As the cold intensifies, so do the potential problems for your home including frozen pipes. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of valuable tips to help you navigate these chilly challenges before they turn into expensive repairs.


How to prevent frozen pipes?

Dealing with frozen pipes can be frustrating and costly, but with the right precautions, you can minimize the risk of damage. Here are some tips to prepare you for even the coldest of Ottawa nights:

I’m worried my pipes are going to freeze today! What can I do?

  • Raise the Temperature: Increase your house temperature even if it means a higher heating bill. The cost is a small price to pay compared to potential water damages from burst pipes.
  • Open Cabinets: Encourage the heat of your home to warm by pipes by opening cupboards under sinks and along water lines.
  • Turn on Taps: When you know it is going to go below -18°C you may want to trickle cold water in your taps that are closest to outside walls (moving water is less likely to freeze).

How do you unfreeze pipes quickly?

If your pipes succumb to the cold you’ll want to act as quickly as possible to minimize damage. Follow these steps to safely thaw frozen pipes:

  1. Locate Water Shut Off: When pipes freeze they can often burst. Before you start defrosting your pipes make sure you know how to shut off water to your home, in case you discover a busted pipe as you’re thawing.  
  2. Run Hot Water: First try running hot water in the taps where the cold water is not running. The hot water lines usually run close to the cold water lines and the heat from the pipes can help thaw the cold water pipes. If this doesn’t work you can try some of the below alternatives.
  3. Raise the Temperature: Turn on or turn up your home’s heating system to help thaw the frozen pipes. For additional heating you can use a space heater to target a specific room, however be careful to keep any electrical components far away from dripping water to avoid electrical hazards. 
  4. Apply Hot Compresses: Place hot water bottles or a cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe, replacing them as they cool off.
  5. Use a Hair Dryer: Use a hair dryer to warm up the frozen pipes. Making sure to keep it far away from any water sources to avoid electrical hazards.
  6. Use Towels: As pipes thaw there is often excess water that drips off the pipes so make sure to have towels on hand to clean up any messes. In more extreme cases freezing can cause pipes to burst and water from inside the pipes will leak out.
  7. Call in the Experts: If you are still having trouble thawing your pipes it’s time to contact a licensed plumber. Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling offers after hours emergency plumbing services throughout Ottawa and surrounding areas. Call us today at 613-224-0041.

Safety Note

Never use a naked flame during the thawing process. This is very dangerous and a huge fire hazard!

What to do when a pipe bursts:

When a pipe bursts, time is of the essence. Follow these steps to minimize water damage:

  1. Turn off Main Water Shut Off: Immediately cut off the main water supply to halt further water flow.
  2. Open Cold Water Taps: If the shut-off valve fails, open cold water taps away from the leaking area to slow down water flow.
  3. Call the City: If you cannot stop the water: Call the city of Ottawa to have your water main turned off. 

Are you dealing with a plumbing emergency in Ottawa? Reach out to the experts at Francis Plumbing Heating & Cooling. We offer emergency plumbing services in the evening, on the weekends and on holidays! Give us a call now at 613-224-0041.

Plumber in basement