At what temperature do pipes freeze in Ottawa?

Having pipes freeze can be a pretty common problem for homes in Ottawa. When this happens, it restrict running water and this prevents you from doing your normal everyday tasks like cooking, taking a shower etc. Additionally, when water freezes it expands and with no room for expansion it could cause the pipe rupture. This is an issue for both metal and plastic pipes. The force of expanding water is just too strong for any type of pipe to withstand.

A burst pipe wrecks havoc on your home. Not only do you have to replace the pipe itself, but you may also end up with serious water damage. The freezing point of water and the melting point is 0 °C. However, there’s no magical outdoor temperature because several factors come into play when it comes to frozen pipes. Essentially, your pipes can freeze any time the air around them reaches the freezing point. When the air temperature surrounding water pipes drops, the heat from the water inside the pipes transfers out to the cold air. This can happen any time the air surrounding the pipes reaches below freezing.

Where could I see this issue?

The most vulnerable spots are those with greater exposure to extremely cold temperatures. These include:

  • Pipes extending along an exterior wall with little or no insulation.
  • Outdoor hose bibs.
  • Plumbing running through unheated interior spaces like the basement or garage.
  • Swimming pool supply lines.
  • Water sprinkler lines.

What should I look for?

The first sign of freezing is when you notice no water is coming from the faucet. Here are two clues you can look for to confirm:

  • Frost on the pipe: Look for frost on exposed pipes. This is a sign that your pipes are definitely frozen.
  • Bitterly cold temperatures: If you have pipes on the outside exposed to the elements, they have the potential to freeze when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. The lower the temperature and the longer it lasts, the more likely they are to freeze.

What should I do next?

If they do freeze there are steps you can take to safely thaw the pipes and reduce any possible damage. Here’s what you can do:

  • First, take a closer look at the frozen pipe and if it has burst shut off the main water line immediately. This is very important in order to prevent gallons of water from flooding the house when the pipe thaws out.
  • Second, open the faucet supplied by the frozen pipe to reduce pressure and allow the thawed ice to run out.
  • If the frozen pipe is behind a finished wall, you can try turning up the thermostat or you can use an infrared lamp to heat the pipe through the wall. It’s a lot easier to thaw exposed pipes; you can use a heat lamp, an electric heating pad or even a hairdryer to warm the frozen area. Never use an open flame device.
  • Finally, Test all the faucets and check for other frozen areas in the house. If others show the obvious signs of frozen pipes, follow these steps to thaw them out. If the pipe is completely inaccessible or you can’t find the frozen area, turn off the main and seek the services of a licensed plumber.

If you are in need of an emergency plumber for frozen pipes in Ottawa, call Canada Plumbing at (613) 890-7700 today. We’ll dispatch a technician to your home or business immediately.