Frozen pipes are likely to burst as temps rise. Here's what to do

To prevent leaks, it’s a good idea to open up your faucets to keep the water flowing during cold weather says Elliott Gazer of London Plumbing.  (Submitted by Elliott Gazer - image credit)
To prevent leaks, it’s a good idea to open up your faucets to keep the water flowing during cold weather says Elliott Gazer of London Plumbing. (Submitted by Elliott Gazer - image credit)

Plumbers in London, Ont. say they are responding to an influx of calls for help with bursting pipes following days of harsh winter weather.

A fierce mix of rain, ice, heavy snow and chilly temperatures over the holiday weekend left travellers stranded and thousands without power across much of Ontario and Quebec. The London region experienced minimal outages, but extreme conditions have caused pipes in many residences and businesses to freeze and then burst as they thaw.

"Considering this cold front that we've just had out of nowhere, I got to be honest, I didn't expect this many calls," said Elliott Gazer of London Plumbing who has 15 years of experience.

By Tuesday morning, Gazer said he had answered 26 calls for service in the previous 72 hours. It's vital, he said, for 24-hour plumbers like him to respond to such calls as quickly as possible.

"We race over when it comes to a plumbing emergency, especially anything with water," he said. "Minutes into a leak, you can have a flood. As the minutes go by, the longer and longer you have to wait, the worse the damage is going to occur."

To prevent leaks, it's a good idea to open up your faucets to keep the water flowing during cold weather, Gazer said. Otherwise, water pushes against ice during the thawing process and building pressure then splits the pipe down the middle.

Fluctuating temperatures spell trouble

Local plumbers can expect to stay on their toes going into the weekend, said Dan Metcalfe, master plumber at Taps Plumbing.

That's when he anticipates an increase in the number of flooding situations as temperatures rise.

Submitted by Dan Metcalfe
Submitted by Dan Metcalfe

"Right now they're frozen, so they don't split when they're frozen," said Metcalfe. "As soon as we get that thaw though, there's going to be calls all over the place…there will be a lot of flooding in the city of London."

If you find yourself wading through water at home sometime in the next few days, it's best to shut off your water meter as quickly as you can, said Metcalfe. Then open your lowest set of taps to drain the remaining water from the system.

He also recommends having SharkBite pipe caps on hand. In a pinch, these can be pushed onto the burst pipe until the plumber arrives to do the actual fix.

"The biggest thing I would suggest is go downstairs and know where your water meter shut off is," he said.

"Just quickly turn it off and turn it back on and make sure everybody in the house knows where that is. Because when you have flooding, worrying about the water that's flooding in the wall is not going to help you. Shutting the water off is the only way to help yourself."