When the temperature dips below zero, homeowners can encounter a common winter plumbing problem. They’ll turn on their bathroom’s sink tap and notice that nothing comes out of the faucet. The other sinks in the house are working just fine. It’s only this faucet that seems to be broken.

The likeliest explanation for this situation is that the pipe attached to the malfunctioning faucet is frozen. Frozen pipes will cut off your water supplies, stopping you from using fixtures around the entire house. It could hinder you from taking a shower, flushing a toilet or washing your hands until it thaws out.

A frozen pipe can also cost you a lot of money if you’re not careful. If you want to prevent your pipes from freezing in the middle of winter, you should follow this advice.

Why is protecting your pipe system important?

A frozen pipe will do more than make your day a little harder. When ice forms inside of pipes,

it builds up pressure between the blockage and the closed faucet. The pressure keeps growing until it breaks open the pipe wall to find release. The eruption could send gallons of water spurting into your house. If the house is unoccupied when it happens, you could come home to a massive flood.

Ignoring a frozen pipe can lead to catastrophic damages. This year, a burst pipe in the

260 Wellesley Street East apartment building flooded the electrical room — this caused an electrical outage on every single floor. Approximately one thousand residents were left with no heat, no light and no water in the middle of the night. While this is an extreme situation, you don’t want to deal with a flooded house and no electricity during the coldest time of the year.

How do you protect your pipes?

Exposed pipes in poorly-insulated places like garages, basements and crawl spaces will be the most vulnerable. Insulating them is the best way to protect them from freezing. Go to a home hardware store and purchase materials to insulate your pipes — choose an option with a high R-value, which means it is very effective at keeping out the cold.

One of the most popular insulating choices is foam tubing, which can be easily cut into smaller pieces to fit bends in the piping. The tubes usually have slits down the middle with adhesive strips on the interior so that you can seal the sides together without any hassle.

Another way that you can keep your pipes from freezing over during a harsh winter is to turn up the heat in your home. Trying to save money by turning the heat off or setting it at low levels could backfire with your plumbing expenses. When the temperature outside drops to zero or below, crank up the thermostat.

One of the other tips for preventing frozen pipes is to open the interior doors and vanity cabinets — it’s not enough to turn up the heat, the warm air has to circulate through the entire house. If there are any pipes behind vanity cabinets, like with kitchen and bathroom sinks, you should prop those open.   

What should you do when you have a frozen pipe?

Maybe this advice is too little and too late. When you have a frozen pipe, there are two main steps you should take to solve it. If it’s affecting a sink faucet, turn on the tap ever so slightly. Opening up the faucet will release the pressure building inside of the pipe, so you will limit the chances of it bursting. The tap should only be turned open a little, in case the ice melts on its own and sends water gushing through the faucet. You don’t want to overflow a fixture or run up your water bill by accident.

The next thing you should do is to contact a professional. You can call us if you have a frozen pipe because we have the technology to thaw up to 175 feet of 1.5-inch diameter metal lines in a plumbing system. That will be much more effective than standing in front of a sink with a hairdryer.

We will warm the pipes enough to thaw an outer layer of the ice and then allow the water pressure to take care of the rest of the obstruction. The technique is safe, fast and effective so that you can get your plumbing system back to normal. You can send us an email or call us for a free estimate for thawing pipes and any other plumbing services that you need.

What should you never do if you have a frozen pipe?

It’s possible to thaw an exposed pipe on your own with a hairdryer. It will take hours of patience, but you could end up with a functioning faucet by the end of your DIY chore. A lot of people don’t want to follow this trick because it takes a long time to make any progress. They decide to get creative with their thawing techniques to speed up the process.

Many people put themselves in danger by attempting to use open flames to thaw out their pipes. For instance, a man accidentally destroyed his house when he tried to thaw out frozen pipes with the help of a blowtorch and set the property on fire, leaving him and his wife momentarily homeless.

Another bad idea that you should avoid at all costs is breaking down walls to get to hidden pipes. Frozen pipes are frustrating, but you shouldn’t cause severe structural damage or put your safety at risk just because you want to thaw them out.

Call a plumber in Toronto to come to your home to investigate where the ice blockage is in your plumbing system and then have them use their technology for thawing pipes. The method doesn’t require anyone to dig into the ground, tear up the floorboards or break down the walls. With the help of a professional, your house can stay in-tact while the pipes get fixed.

Following these steps will keep your plumbing running smoothly all winter long. You won’t have to think about useless taps, broken toilets or burst pipes. You can go about your daily tasks without a shred of worry, despite the arctic temperatures waiting outside your front door.