What to do if your pipes are frozen


Local plumbing company inundated with calls.

Cold weather ravaged many buildings in the city, with sub-zero temperatures causing pipes to freeze, leak or burst pipes, causing massive demand for plumbing services.

Since December 29, Environment Canada has issued an alert for Howe Sound. Arctic flow, along with already freezing temperatures, is expected to produce a wind chill of as low as -20 C.

For much of the end of December, Squamish and the Sea to Sky had to contend with unusually cold weather.

As a result, many were caught off guard by the unusual climate, which led to massive demand for plumbing services.

“Since that exit from the Arctic, we’ve been inundated every day with phone calls for freezer pipes, many of which can’t do anything. We just have to wait for things to thaw out. And it’s overwhelming,” said Denis Zuvelek, Owner of Big D Plumbing & Hot Water.

There were so many calls that he had to press pause to accept new jobs.

“We get between 30 and 50 calls a day. I think over the next few days when things start to thaw, it will be hectic.”

The problem is, water expands when frozen, damaging pipes and causing leaks. This damage will become apparent when normal temperatures resume and water begins to drip from the pipes.

An example of a business that the Zuvelek company had to help out is the very popular restaurant Sunny Chibas, which was forced to close after encountering this problem.

“A pipe burst, and it was because of the cold weather,” said manager Diana Frederickson on Dec. 29.

“It was in the middle of the shift, and we had to close the restaurant, which is still rotten. You can’t function without water. We were closed all day yesterday.”

Frederickson said the pipe burst on December 27, forcing the shutdown. However, they managed to fix the problem the next day and were due to reopen on December 29.

“We’re just going to make sure we let the water run overnight,” she said.

She said the restaurant was closed for a few days during the holidays, which likely gave the water in the pipes time to freeze.

“Not running water for two whole days in an old building is probably not the wisest idea in this weather,” she noted.

Many of the buildings housing restaurants in town are also old, making them more susceptible to these issues.

Frederickson said this kind of cold caught many people off guard, adding that the last time she remembered such a weather was in the 1990s.

“I remember going to school thinking I was going to die,” she recalls, laughing. “It’s been so long since we’ve had a cold snap. You don’t really think about it at all.”

Taka Ramen + Sushi also had issues with the cold.

Co-owner David Kite said a planned three-day shutdown from Christmas Eve until Boxing Day was extended due to frozen pipes.

They had to close two more days.

“Some pipes were frozen,” Kite said. “When I first arrived on Boxing Day, all the water lines were frozen and no water was going in or out. And our noodle boiler was [broken]. We were fortunate enough to have a plumber friend fix it for us… We had to shut down two more days for freezing. “

They are expected to reopen on December 30.

On social media, other companies have announced temporary closures due to frozen pipes.

This included Saha Eatery, Tantalus Bike Shop, and Zephyr Cafe.

Zuvelek said the most important thing people know right now is where their main water isolation valve is.

That way, if things start to leak during the thaw, people can shut off the water, minimize the damage, and wait for professional help.

If there are any pipes that people suspect have a tendency to freeze, leave the faucets open, as it is much more difficult for running water to freeze.

Finally, if people know exactly where the gel is going in their pipes, it’s possible to get a radiator or a hair dryer and thaw it out, Zuvelek added.

However, people should always be on guard to close their water isolation valve in the event of a leak.


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