If you have no water....
If you have no running water, check that the water is still turned on, and that you do not have a leak. Once you have confirmed those two things, continue your inspection to make sure your pipes have not burst. If your search reveals that your pipes are frozen but that none have ruptured, you have two options:
Call a plumber to help thaw your frozen pipes. Most times, this is a better idea if you don’t think you can safely thaw the pipes yourself, you don’t know where the frozen pipes are or you can’t access the frozen area.
Attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself. Be aware this option can be dangerous if not done correctly. Do not use any open flame heat source, but instead try a space heater to warm the area. Be sure to use caution when using space heaters: ensure there is 3 feet of clearance around them, and do not leave unattended.
If you are not experienced, it is safer to defer this task to a professional. However, there are fast fixes you can attempt yourself if you are experienced with home maintenance work. If you attempt to thaw the frozen pipes yourself, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep your faucet open. Water and steam will be created during the thawing process, and your pipes will need to discharge these through an opening. Keeping the faucet open also allows for moving water to run through the pipe, which will expedite the thawing process.
- Apply heat to the section of the pipe that is frozen. This can be done by wrapping an electronic heating pad or heat tape around the pipe, heating the area with a hair dryer or both. If you lack either of these items, using towels soaked in hot water will help as well. Remember, this is a temporary fix. To prevent a fire, the heating pad should not be left unattended.
- Know what not to do. Never use a blowtorch, propane or kerosene heaters, a charcoal stove or any other open flame device to thaw your frozen pipes. That presents a severe fire hazard. You should also avoid using a space heater unless you are sure the area is clear of any flammable material. Again, never leave the space heater unattended.
- Continue applying heat until water flow returns to normal. Once you have successfully thawed the pipe, turn on other faucets in your home to check for any additional frozen water pipes.
- Take swift action if the frozen pipes are located inside an exterior wall. This is a serious situation when you should call a professional contractor, as repairs may involve cutting openings in the wall toward the inside of the house to expose those pipes to warmer air.
In order to help prevent the water service pipe on your property from freezing this winter, please consider the following alternatives:
- Ensure your indoor air temperature is kept above 8ºC in areas that contain water pipes.
- Run a continuous steady stream of cold water, at least the width of a drinking straw or 1/4" or 5 cm, until the weather has warmed up. Check plumbing to make sure drainage is sufficient and no blockage will occur.
- Seal air leaks in your home and garage, especially in areas where pipes are located. Ensure proper insulation is installed around water pipes.
If you have determined that you do not have any interior frozen pipes, call the City at 250-828-3461 to determine if there are any water main issues.