Frozen pipes: what to do, how to prevent them

We're expecting more wild temperature swings to happen in the next few hours, and that could mean an increased risk for frozen water pipes in your home.

And experts say it's difficult — though not impossible — to prevent the pipes from freezing. But they do suggest that keeping water flowing through the pipes can be key.

"If the pipes do freeze, call a plumber," says Ralph Suppa with the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating. "If you want to avoid freezing pipes...you can let the water run slowly, and that opens the gateway for the water to drip, and not freeze as it goes through."

And Suppa recommends if you're planning to leave the house for a while and you want to keep your pipes from freezing during exceptionally cold weather like we had in Montreal last week, to shut the water off at the source.

"What you can do is shut off the water at the main and let the water in the existing pipes flow out of the system, and that would protect them from that situation in case it gets really cold."

Henri Bouchard, the technical director of the CMMTQ, which represents Quebec's master pipefitters, says frozen pipes can also burst.

"If it's frozen, and you have ice in the pipe, the ice is getting bigger than the water, so the pipe can bust. And when it will unfreeze, you'll have a lot of water in the house."

Jon Eakes, from CJAD's Home Improvement show, has more tips on his web site here.

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  1. Terry posted on 01/06/2014 10:39 PM
    Had this problem Friday morning. Copper pipe from above the water meter was extremely cold. Rented transformer tool. One clamp on pipe above the water meter and second clamp on open cold water valve to washing machine. Let it run ten minutes. Then applied heat gun to exposed pipe two feet from the water meter (removed section of paneling). Water came gushing out. Whoever finished the room had jammed the copper pipe against the cement foundation. No insulation or air space between the pipe and the foundation.
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