With lows that dip into the -30s, it’s no surprise that many Albertans will have to deal with frozen pipes at some point in their life. Plumbing can run through all kinds of hidden places. From unheated garages and unfinished basements to uninsulated attics, your network of pipes could be going anywhere! And when the blizzards shake your home with wind chills of -50, it’s no surprise that sometimes those exposed pipes freeze. So what’s next?
Why Do Pipes Burst?
Water is unique among almost all substances on Earth. When liquid water freezes it expands. In fact, ice takes up almost 10% more room than the same weight of water. In your plumbing, the pipe is already completely filled with water. There is no extra space for ice to expand. So as the water freezes, it begins to push against the pipes that are preventing it from expanding with incredible force. In a worst case scenario, the freezing water can produce a constant force of 114,000 psi or about 7760 atmospheres of pressure. No wonder the pipe cracks under all that pressure!
Identifying Frozen Pipes.
Frozen pipes are typically pretty obvious. You’ll see the water line is coated in frost, or it may even be bulging like a small snake digesting a large rat. But the problem is all those nooks and crannies, like inside your wall or up in the attic, where you can’t see the pipes. In those cases, you’ll have to look for other tell-tale signs. If it’s been very cold, and your faucet won’t flow (or is very slow) or a toilet won’t refill when you flush, then that’s a sign that pipes have frozen.
The REAL Problem is Thawing Pipes.
While not having water where you need it is annoying, the real trouble begins when the hard freeze is replaced by a chinook. The pipe thaws, the ice melts, and suddenly there’s water everywhere. If you suspect you have a frozen pipe (or you definitely have a burst pipe that’s now spewing water), the first things to do are:
- Send an SOS to our friendly Calgary plumbers — (403) 452-2911. We’ll send someone over ASAP.
- Try to identify the shut off valve for the area that’s leaking. If you can’t find it, shut off water to the entire house. Minimizing flooding (and the mould and mildew that follows!) is the highest priority.
- If things are already bad, give your home insurance company a call while you await our Calgary plumbers. The good news is that most homeowners will be covered for a burst pipe.
No plumbing emergency is fun, but some can be avoided with careful prevention. Schedule a meeting with your trusted Calgary plumber to investigate where your pipes run throughout the house. Identify any areas (like the attic, garage, or basement) where your plumbing system is particularly vulnerable to freezing. At the same time, make sure you know exactly where the shut off valves are for your home as well as individual fixtures. That knowledge will save you a lot of damage if something ever goes wrong in the future.
Has old faithful been relocated to your basement? From fully planned renovations to sudden plumbing emergencies, the experts at Plumbing Paramedics are here to help! Keep our number in your phone, so you can reach us anytime you need us — (403) 452-2911.
Call us at (403) 452-2911 or Book Now an appointment.