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Snowflakes on frozen ASB pipe

Why You Shouldn't Thaw Frozen ABS Pipes Yourself

Dealing with frozen pipes is a very real possibility for many Canadian homeowners during the winter months. If pipes get clogged with ice, they can burst easily, which could potentially shut down your plumbing and cause damage to your home. 

When you discover frozen pipes, it’s natural to want to fix the problem as quickly as possible to avoid any damage. Although thawing frozen pipes out yourself may seem relatively easy, you may want to reconsider taking on this DIY task.  

There are several reasons why it might be best to let a professional deal with any frozen ABS pipes in your home, and here’s why: 

You Could Damage Your Pipes 

Living in Canada means dealing with ice on a consistent basis throughout the winter. Canadians are used to clearing it from their driveways and scraping it off their windshields all the time.  

But dealing with ice in frozen pipes isn’t quite the same, or as easy. First, you need to identify exactly where the pipe is frozen. If you are dealing with an exposed pipe, you may be able to see frost or a bulge in the ABS pipe where the ice has developed. However, if the pipe is located behind a wall, or under a floor, identifying where it might be frozen can be nearly impossible.  

Other clues that a pipe may be frozen are faucets that aren’t working or toilets that don’t refill after flushing. In these cases, the blockage is likely in a pipe that leads directly to those areas. 

If you are fortunate enough to determine where the pipe is frozen, you’ll then need to follow a precise thawing process to address the problem. However, even if you thaw the pipes out as carefully as possible, you still run the risk of damaging the pipe and causing a leak. If not done correctly, you could cause the frozen pipes to burst – which is exactly what you’re trying to prevent. 

Trying to thaw a frozen pipe too close to the main blockage could cause the melting ice to get stuck behind the blockage. This can cause a build-up of pressure, which will increase the chances of the pipe bursting.  

Depending on the method you choose for thawing the ice, there is a possibility that applying too much heat could damage and/or rupture the pipe.  

You Put Yourself at Risk 

One of the most dangerous things you can do is attempt to thaw your pipes using extreme heat or an open flame, such as a blow torch. Depending on where the frozen pipe is located, using an open flame to thaw the pipe could cause a fire that damages your home. Or worse, you could be injured in the process. Even if you take extra precautions when using high heat, accidents can happen. This is especially true if the thawing process is slow, and you’re tempted to leave the heat source unattended for a period of time. Never, leave an open flame unattended as it can result in a fire that causes extensive damage. 

You May Have Other Plumbing Problems 

Although frozen pipes may not be a common occurrence for many homeowners, pipes that are exposed to extremely low temperatures for an extended period of time can freeze. If you notice that your pipes freeze often during colder weather, this is an indication that there are issues that need to be addressed. 

One of the most common reasons why pipes freeze is poor or no insulation. This happens most often with pipes located in basements, attics and crawl spaces. Insulating or adding extra insulation around these pipes, such as foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves, can significantly reduce the chances of these pipes freezing.  

Another, more involved option is to re-route exposed pipes to an area where they are better protected from cold weather. Pipes that can be re-routed to areas that are consistently heated during the winter are far less likely to freeze in the winter.  

Another common problem is cracks or holes that are located where pipes run through walls or floors. If these gaps expose the pipes to cold air, they can cause the pipes to freeze. Any cracks or holes in walls and floors should be sealed up with caulk or insulation. In extreme cold, even a small opening can let in enough air for a pipe to freeze. 

Pro Tips and Advice 

Frozen pipes are not only a headache and inconvenience, if not addressed properly, they can also result in damage to your home and property. If you have an issue with frozen pipes and need help, contact your local plumbing pros at Mr. Rooter. We can fix your frozen pipe problem and offer long-term solutions that will keep it from happening in the future. We can also perform a complete plumbing diagnosis and inspection to ensure your system continues to run efficiently all year long. To learn more, give us a call at 855.591.0128 or visit us online to schedule an appointment