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How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

As our weather becomes more unpredictable, with cold temperatures, fierce storms, and strong winds, it’s a good idea to start planning your strategy to prevent water pipes from freezing.

Although many homeowners rarely need to deal with a burst pipe, it is well worth being prepared just in case. As anyone who has experienced a flood due to burst pipes can tell you, it can do irreparable damage to your flooring, furniture, and possessions. Repairs are costly – even with home insurance protection, this is one mishap you will want to avoid. Thankfully, planning and easy DIY action can prevent frozen pipes and floods.

Our team at Kimball Building Supplies Centre has put together a few ideas to help you prepare your water pipes for the coldest months of the year.

Prevention is Key

You may already have some water pipes in your home that freeze during cold snaps and could be at risk of a burst pipe.

Interior pipes in uninsulated spaces are most likely to freeze and are usually close to an exterior wall. Check under the sink in your kitchen and bathroom, in the laundry room, basement, crawl space, porch, attic, garage, and other openings to the outside.

Around your home’s exterior, check your hose attachments, water sprinkler lines, swimming pool water lines, and any other water supply lines that could freeze if they are not insulated properly or winterized. Catch a leak before it can do significant damage. Use a leak detector – on its own or as part of your smart home system. You will get voice alerts or alerts on your phone if there is a leak from a burst pipe or other source.

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing - Indoors

  • Once you have identified the pipes most likely to freeze, seal any cracks or gaps in the walls near them with a sealant, and add spray foam or batt insulation to the walls for extra protection. Seal areas that connect to the outdoors, like dryer vents, pipes, and wiring.
  • You can also use caulking to fill cracks in cement walls, brick, and around doors and windows to prevent the temperature in your home from dropping during extreme cold.
  • Keep the tap running with lukewarm water at just a trickle to keep the water flowing to prevent pipes from freezing on the coldest winter nights. Water that is “wasted” is well worth the money to prevent your pipes from bursting and causing flooding and water damage to your home.
  • Keep your home at a temperature no lower than 8°C (46°F), especially in rooms with water pipes near the water meter.
  • Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors to let warm air reach the pipes, especially next to an exterior wall.
  • Keep garage doors closed if connected to your house.
  • If you will be away for an extended period during the coldest weather, keep your thermostat at a temperature to prevent freezing, at least 8°C to 13°C (46°F to 55°F). Consider turning off your water while you’re away and having someone check your house often. Insurance companies advise this to keep damage at a minimum in case a pipe has burst.
  • If your home has a fire sprinkler system, consult with your insurance advisor to determine whether or not to turn off the water supply.

How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing - Outdoors

  • Turn off the water supply valve to your outdoor taps for your garden hose. Disconnect the hose and let the water drain out completely before storing. Leave the outdoor faucet slightly open to ensure the pipe won’t crack or break if water remains in it.
  • Thoroughly drain water from all swimming pool equipment to prevent freezing. Any water left in your swimming pool’s pump, heater, and filter can cause damage if it freezes.
  • Wrap the most vulnerable water pipes in pipe insulation to prevent cracks and freezing. Focus on pipes near exterior walls, crawl spaces, the basement, or the attic. You’ll find many easy DIY pipe insulation products:
    • Pipe insulation sleeves are pre-slit foam tubular covers sliding easily onto copper and PVC pipes.
    • Heat tape for copper and PVC water pipes has a built-in thermostat, activated by low temperatures, and protects to -40°C (-40°F).
    • Heat cable automatically heats water pipes and available in 6’ to 80’ lengths.
    • Pipe-insulation wrap in PVC closed-cell foam with a heat-reflecting aluminum shell.
    • Pipe-insulation wrap in fibreglass has a protective plastic cover as a moisture barrier.

Be Prepared With a Plan for a Frozen or Burst Pipe

If a pipe has burst and you have an active leak or flood, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve. Include this with your family’s fire safety and emergency evacuation plan. Show everyone in your household where the water shut-off valve is. Draw arrows on a diagram to show the directions to open and close it.

If there is a sight trickle of water, open the tap and warm the pipe to melt the ice. You can use a hair dryer, heating pad, warm towel, a cloth soaked in hot water, or a portable heater to thaw the frozen pipe(s). Start at the section closest to the faucet and move toward the most frozen or coldest part.

Call a licensed plumber if the pipe is frozen and you can’t thaw the ice or can’t reach or find the frozen area.

Safety Tips

  • Always follow your local building codes and use best practices when insulating water pipes.
  • Never use an open flame to thaw your water pipes – this is a fire hazard.
  • Never use antifreeze in a frozen pipe. It is harmful to pets, wildlife, your family, and property.
  • If you need to leave cupboards open to keep water pipes warm, remember to remove household cleaners that could be a health risk to young children or pets.
  • Avoid electrical shock by keeping any electrical appliances away from pooling water.

If you have done your best to insulate the pipes and the space they are in, but they continue to freeze each winter, wait until warmer weather and move them to a different area.

Any preparation you can do before the temperature drops will give you peace of mind – and save you the cost and inconvenience of frozen and burst pipes. To learn more about preventing your water pipes from freezing this winter, visit Kimball Building Supplies Centre today. Our team will be happy to assist you.

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