Canadian winters can be really fierce and while that may not be a big shock to homeowners, it can be a big shock to your pipes! Frozen and bursting pipes can be a costly and upsetting dilemma for homeowners, especially if they’ve never dealt with the situation before, so being prepared is essential.
When temperatures in your area are at or below freezing, consider these simple tips:
- Allow a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing. The cost of the extra water is low compared to the cost to repair a broken pipe. If you’re going to try this, capture the water for wise water use afterwards (watering indoor plants etc).
- Open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures and help keep them from freezing.
- Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines by repairing broken windows, insulating walls, closing off crawl spaces and eliminating drafts near doors.
- Make sure that you know the location of your main water shut-off valve. If a pipe freezes or bursts, shut the water off immediately!
- Protect your pipes and water meter. Wrap exposed pipes with insulation or use electrical heat tracing wire; newspaper or fabric could also work. For outside meters, keep the lid to the meter closed tightly and let any snow that falls cover it. Snow acts as insulation so don’t disturb it.
If pipes do end up freezing, consider the following tips:
- Shut off the water immediately! Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes unless the water is shut off. Freezing can often cause unseen cracks in pipes or joints.
- Apply heat to the frozen pipe by warming the air around it, or by applying heat directly to a pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater or hot water. Be sure not to leave space heaters unattended, and avoid the use of kerosene heaters or open flames.
- Once the pipes have thawed, turn the water back on slowly and check for cracks and leaks as it runs.
If you are leaving home during the winter for vacation, be sure to have someone regularly check the property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes are not frozen. Want to take extra precautions? You can even purchase a freeze alarm for around $100, which will call a user-selected phone number if the inside of the home drops below 45 degrees.