How to Prevent Frozen Pipes – and Thaw Frozen Pipes if they Happen

December 29th, 2021

Now that Calgary is fully in the midst of its cold winter, people are beginning to experience a common plumbing problem – frozen pipes. Cold winter temperatures cause water to freeze and expand, putting extra pressure on the pipes containing it. A frozen pipe could lead to many issues, the most costly of which is if the pipes burst, potentially costing thousands of dollars to repair. What should you do to prevent frozen pipes in the first place, and what should you do once you notice your pipes are frozen to prevent a costly repair? 

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes:

Whenever there are extended below-freezing temperatures, consider that your pipes have a possibility of freezing and bursting if proper precautions are not taken. While nothing we can do will prevent Calgary from getting cold weather, we can take steps to ensure that pipes will not freeze. To prevent pipes from freezing and causing major damage, consider these measures:

  • Draining water from any pipe that is likely to freeze – unless you plan on swimming or watering your lawn, it may be best to drain your swimming pool and sprinklers as well as the attached water supply lines.
  • Disconnect any hoses on the outside of your home – don’t forget to shut off the valve supplying water to these outside hoses.
  • Make sure all doors and windows have proper seals – this will prevent cold weather from entering and hot weather from leaving your home, keeping pipes warmer as well as saving you money on heating costs.
  • Seal any wall cracks – a step beyond ensuring proper seals on windows and doors which will only further limit the cold weather from entering your home.
  • Keep your garage closed as much as possible – another way to prevent warm air from escaping your home.
  • Allow your faucets to drip on extremely cold days – running water is harder to freeze than still water within pipes. 
  • Add insulation to the areas around vents and light fixtures, as well as basements, attics, crawl spaces to further prevent heat from escaping.

Symptoms of Frozen Pipes:Prevent Frozen Pipes

The earliest sign of a frozen pipe is when no water comes out of the faucet after it is turned on. As soon as you notice this issue, act quickly to prevent the frozen water inside the pipes from continuing to expand and build pressure. 

The first step is to check to see that your water is still turned on and there isn’t a leak within your hot water heater. If there aren’t any issues with your water tank, inspect the pipes themselves to make sure they haven’t already burst. Once you’ve determined that there are no issues with the tank or pipes, you can decide how to fix your frozen pipes.


How to Fix Frozen Pipes:

The best way to fix frozen pipes is to call a professional who can safely fix them without any risk or potential additional damage caused to your home. If you are inexperienced in dealing with this sort of home repair, calling an experienced plumber who can safely thaw the frozen pipes is the better, safer option. Please be aware that all home repair projects are done yourself come at the homeowner’s risk. If you do decide to fix the frozen pipes yourself, please keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your faucet open – Keeping the faucet open allows for water to flow, which is especially important as the ice begins to melt into water and evaporate into steam. The faucet needs to be open to discharge the flowing water created in the thawing process.
  • Apply heat to the section of the frozen pipe – Use something that will bring on a low amount of heat at a controlled temperature, such as a hairdryer, a towel soaked in hot water, or a heating pad.

NOTE: Never use any sort of open flame to thaw a frozen pipe, and never leave any heating product on a frozen pipe unattended as this is extremely dangerous and is a severe fire hazard. 

If you cannot reach the frozen pipes (they are located in the house walls, for example), it is strongly recommended to call an experienced plumber for assistance. A responsible homeowner takes preventative measures to look after their home and fixes the issues they are able to, but also knows when to call additional help. 

Price-Rite Plumbing has been in business in Calgary for over 27 years and has dealt with its share of frozen pipes. Price-Rite Plumbing offers hourly prices to ensure you aren’t getting overcharged and a journeyman staff with experience in plumbing repairs. The next time you need help to solve your plumbing issues, call Price-Rite Plumbing at (403) 660-1122 to make sure the job is not only done right but priced right.