Water Works Canada Guide to Frozen Pipes in the Winter
As Canadians, we are more than familiar with the cold winter weather. But like any season, winter presents a unique set of threats to your home. Frozen pipes are something that many Canadians know exist, but few know how to deal with this common problem. There are several questions that you should know the answer to:
- Where is your main shutoff valve?
- Do you have individual shutoff valves?
- Did you cut off the flow of water to your garden hose?
Sudden temperature drops can result in tens of thousands of dollars to your home should your pipes freeze and burst. When the water in your pipes freezes, it expands enough to put pressure on the pipes and cause them to burst. Once burst, water will flow into your house until it’s turned off. This poses a huge problem for homeowners that are away for vacation, family events, and other reasons.
How to Protect Yourself from Frozen Pipes (Residential)
Frozen pipes are not only costly to fix, but the insurance process can be difficult to navigate based on the type of coverage you have. We recommend you follow these precautions:
- Know where your main shutoff valve is. If you are home, you can quickly cut off the flow of water by turning your main shutoff valve off. It’s typically located in your basement near the main water access pipe meter. Knowing the location of this valve is essential.
- Insulate any pipes that are prone to freezing. Any pipes that are exposed to the elements, like those found in your garage, attic, near outside walls, or crawl spaces should be insulated. You can buy pipe insulators from any hardware store, or ask your local plumbing company.
- Seal your windows and doors. Air leaks not only result in heat loss, but they can cause your pipes to freeze too. You’ll want to check around your doors, windows, pipe, and wiring access points, and dryer vents to make sure they are airtight. If they aren’t, you can apply simple spray foam to seal up any small gaps, or a plastic barrier for windows.
- Outdoor faucets are always the first thing to freeze. You need to make sure you cut off the flow of water to any garden hose faucets you may have. They will be directly exposed to the elements, and are prone to freeze. Look for an internal shutoff valve for the faucet. If you don’t have one, consider having a plumber install a dedicated valve for it.
Don’t be afraid to call a plumber. If your pipes have frozen before, or you believe there is a problem with your plumbing, don’t be afraid to call a plumber. A quick service call can save you a lot of time and money.
Leaving Your Home for an Extended Period?
When the cold winter weather hits, a vacation down south can look attractive. Before you leave, you’ll want to take several steps to protect your home. These steps include:
- Turn the main valve to your home off. This simple step will cut off the flow of water to your home. Next, turn on a cold water tap from your basement and leave it running to drain any remaining water in your pipes. Make sure the drain isn’t clogged to prevent flooding.
- Have a friend check your home from time to time. It’s important that you have someone keep an eye on your home. Not only will this protect you from potential plumbing problems, but it reduces the chance of burglary too.
How to Protect Yourself from Frozen Pipes (Commercial)
Commercial buildings are just as susceptible to frozen pipes. Depending on what type of business you own, you will want to:
- Insulate any fire lines from the cold. Fire lines are often directly exposed to the cold. They need to be properly insulated to protect them from freezing.
- Keep all indoor pipes at a minimum temperature of 8ºC. You need to ensure that your heating systems are keeping your indoor pipes heated to 8ºC, especially near your water meter and any other pipes that go outside.
- Close garage doors if you have a water faucet inside. When you leave your garage doors open, you allow cold air to flow inward. These sudden changes in temperature can cause your pipes to freeze and burst.
- Expose your pipes to the warm air from time to time. Open any cabinets or pipe access points to expose them to the warm air circulating throughout your rooms.
Need Help? Water Works Canada Is Here!
Don’t hesitate to contact us here at Water Works Canada at (416) 489-0000 should you have any questions at all. Winter can be a stressful time for homeowners. After all, you’ve spent a lot of money purchasing and protecting your home. We will answer any questions that you have, and help you diagnose any potential plumbing issues before they become major problems.