Toronto Plumbing Repair 101: Frozen & Burst Pipes

 In General Plumbing

In our cold wintery City of Toronto there are inevitably those properties that will experience one of the most panic inducing plumbing emergencies – a burst pipe. There are truly a variety of causes of pipes bursting but cold weather temperatures causing freezing problems are a major cause. If you have become a victim of a frozen pipe that has since burst rest assured you are not alone; there are plenty of pipes bursting in Toronto and many home owners have had to face this problem as well, in fact the City has even posted their own page on frozen water pipe issues.

“How Does Water Freezing Cause A Burst Pipe?”

First question many people may be wondering is how exactly did my frozen pipe burst? Well the answer to that question has to do with the physics of water freezing and how it interacts with the pipe holding that frozen water. When water is in a liquid state the molecule are fairly compressed. Once the temperature drops below 4c the molecule begins to expand, once the molecule has fully frozen it takes up approximately 9% more space. Inside of a closed pipe there is no room for this expansion and instead the frozen water exerts pressure on the pipe causing it to burst open.

“My Frozen Pipe Has Burst What Now?”

There are three main areas that must be addressed once you’ve realized that you have a pipe that has broken open due to frozen water expansion:

  • Eliminate flooding problems as quickly as possible
  • Repair the broken pipes
  • Taking steps to ensure the pipes do not burst again in the future

Eliminate the Flooding Problems

Remember, a burst pipe is indeed a plumbing emergency. In order to protect your home from flooding and the inherit water damages the first thing you should do if you encounter a burst pipe is to shut off the water. It’s likely that if the pipe burst due to freezing you should seek out the cold water shutoff. If you can turn it off for the specific pipe do so, otherwise you may need to shut off the water to your entire house. Although it may seem a drastic measure when you have a burst pipe this is incredibly important to prevent further damage.

Repair the Burst Pipe

In order to properly repair a burst pipe you will need to put to use the plumbing services of a professional Toronto plumbing specialist. Some people may attempt to DIY repair their pipes but we strongly recommend against this practice as there are always the chances of a bad connection or improper pipe repair which can inevitably lead to further trouble in the future. Calling in an experience plumbing technician will result in a guaranteed, good as new pipe.

Taking Steps to Eliminate Future Pipe Bursts

insulating pipes to prevent freezingThere are a variety of reasons that a pipe may freeze, but there are also some basic steps that home owners can take to ensure that they do not fall victim to pipes breaking due to freezing water.

  1. Shut off water. If you are going on a vacation, ensure that you fully drain your plumbing system and shut off the water main. This will make sure that there is no water present in the system should a deep freeze occur.
  2. Insulate your pipes. All plumbing pipes that are not insulated and have even the remotest potential to be exposed to temperatures near freezing should be wrapped in insulation. This is not a very difficult DIY task; ensure that all insulation is at least an R-4 rating. Make sure that you completely cover the pipes with the insulation.
  3. Improve warm air circulation. On particularly cold days, if you have pipes in your basement, attic, or crawlspace and these areas are not heated open the doors in your house to allow for your homes warm air to access these areas. This small bit of extra heat can be the difference between a burst pipe and thawed pipe. Additionally, if you have lights in these areas you can turn them on to provide a small amount of heat in the room.
  4. Heat your pipes. Heat tape is a very effective solution which your local plumber can install on pipes that are prone to freezing. Essentially it is a heating pad for the length of your pipe.
  5. Install a heater. In particularly problematic areas such as attics or crawlspaces you may be best to simply install a heater (there are many places to buy space heaters) and eliminate the problem entirely.

These tips will get you on the right track to prevent frozen pipes from happening in the first place.

If you happen to have experienced a emergency plumbing situation such as a burst frozen pipe we can help. Additionally, preventing pipes from bursting is a task we perform regularly and we provide pipe thawing services to safely thaw your frozen pipes. If you have any questions about how to winterize your plumbing, deal with frozen pipes, or repair burst pipes feel free to contact us directly at 416-252-5557.

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