Did the Edmonton chill freeze your pipes? Here’s how to fix them
Edmonton is cold — and with that comes unique challenges. Every winter, we Edmontonians brave the elements, and so do our houses — but not all homes are created equal.
Frozen pipes become a serious problem when temperatures start to dip below freezing — and with hefty wind chills they can become a major threat to your plumbing, and your wallet.
Here’s a lowdown on the warning signs, remedies and vulnerabilities to keep you ready for action if or when the time comes.
Even minor renovations can cause changes to heat flow within your walls. Pay special attention to any area where drywall, insulation or plumbing changes were made. Pipes burst most often in:
- Homes built before the 1960s
- Newly finished basements
- Renovated bathrooms or kitchens
- In attics and crawl spaces
- Pipes close to outside walls
- Anywhere with exposed pipes or pipes in unheated areas
There is no single temperature that will cause a break — different combinations of wind and cold affect every home differently.
The Warning Signs
- Sounds: You flush the toilet or wash your hands but you hear a funny noise — what is it? When air cannot escape to the sewer lines, it makes a bubbling sound — this is a sign that there may be ice build up or a burst pipe in your home. Whistling, banging and clanging are also major signs that your pipes may be rubbing together a bit too closely.
- Smells: Didn’t use the bathroom lately, but your house smells like sewage? This is a telltale sign that there is a back up in your lines. This is particularly common from drains, sinks and toilets on the lower level of your home. If you still have some flow, water that comes out discoloured or smelly might be a sign of frozen pipes.
- Damp drywall: If your walls are soggy, there is water leaking from somewhere.
- Leaky ceiling: You look up, and you ceiling has wet rings on it — or worse it’s dripping into your lap — you definitely have a burst pipe on your hands.
- Unusual water flow: Dripping instead of running water, or no water flow, all act as signs of plumbing problems.
- Icy or bulging pipes: For any pipes that are exposed, inspect them visually. If they are frosty or show signs of condensation, they are vulnerable to freezing and bursting. If a pipe is bulging or has a crack in it, this is a major indicator that it should not be used. If this is the case it is important to check as many pipes as possible, because one pipe can be an indicator that others have frozen too.
Encountered one of the warning signs above in your home? Worry not — here’s how to fix the situation before any major damage occurs:
Step 1: Turn off the water to the section of your home with the burst pipe or your whole home.
Step 2: Open the faucet of the frozen pipe to relieve any built up pressure.
Step 3: Safely apply heat to the frozen area of the pipe by using a blow dryer, heated blanket, a space heater (with caution), or wrap a warm damp towel around the area. *Do not use a blowtorch! This is a fire hazard and will open up a whole other can of worms.
Continue to apply heat until water flow returns to normal.
Step 4: If 1–3 didn’t work or the frozen section cannot be located, post your job and have us help out! TradePros or 5878814406
- Check your garage for water supply lines. If you find pipes, keep the garage door closed to ensure the space stays as warm as possible.
- If you think your pipes may be prone to freezing, leave a tap open just a trickle to keep the line flowing.
- For pipes in cabinets, keep the cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate inside.
- Planning an extended trip? To avoid coming home to a soggy home, leave the heat running in your house (on a lower setting), or turn the water off at the main service valve in your basement. Then, open your taps to drain the leftover water from your service lines.
Have you ever had this happen to you? Comment below and tell us your story!