Frozen pipes posing a problem for many Island homes

As the province shivers in the grip of a bitter late-December chill, frozen pipes are creating an 'extreme situation' for plumbers across P.E.I.

'The plumbing these days only has so much room for give'

Brent Campbell from Bevan Bros. says they've received roughly 100 calls for service since Christmas. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

As the province shivers in the grip of a bitter late-December chill, frozen pipes are creating an "extreme situation" for plumbers across P.E.I.

Brent Campbell, service manager with Bevan Bros., says plumbers have responded to over 100 calls since Christmas, specifically to homes with frozen pipes.

"The last few days have created an extreme situation," he said.

"A lot of the calls are related to heating issues, frozen pipes and other situations that are attached to that. It's been extremely busy and it's difficult to provide service to everyone but we do the best we can."

A service technician with Bevan Bros. takes a call while on a job. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Thawing pipes may pose a problem

The cold may be to blame for the frozen pipes, but Campbell said the wind this week has made things much worse.

The plumbing these days only has so much room for give, once the seals rupture then away it goes into the building structure — it can get nasty pretty quick.— John Farquharson, ServiceMaster Restore

He said cold winds and drafts will infiltrate homes through open windows and doors and freeze the pipes.

Josh Farquharson with ServiceMaster Restore said they're getting plenty of calls about frozen pipes and have responded to collapsed ceilings and flooring floating in the basement as a result.

He said one of the biggest problems is when temperatures warm and pipes thaw, which can cause serious damage to people's homes.

Josh Farquharson says when pipes freeze, 'it can get nasty pretty quick.' (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"Once the pipes are frozen they expand in the wall cavities, ceiling cavities, then once the heat gets to them it starts to melt inside and the water starts running again which could then cause water to come out in the ruptures," he said.

"The plumbing these days only has so much room for give, once the seals rupture then away it goes into the building structure — it can get nasty pretty quick."

Plumbers say homeowners can prevent frozen pipes from freezing by keeping these few tips in mind:

  • Leaving a trickle of water running
  • Keep windows and doors closed
  • Keep cabinet doors open to allow heat to flow into the area 
  • Raise your thermostat to a level that keeps water moving  
  • Ensure there's enough fuel in your furnace.
Plumbers recommend keeping an eye on your pipes and keeping the thermostat at a level where hot water is always on the move throughout the home. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

With files from Tom Steepe