The freezing winter months are just around the corner, and it’s time to prepare your homes to handle the plummeting temperatures. Preventing your home’s external and internal pipes from freezing is one of the most critical aspects of winterizing your home. Read on to learn more!
It may still be Autumn, but many of us can already feel that sharp winter wind hovering around the corner!
As northerners, we’ve perfected and embraced thick parkas and the art of layering to shield ourselves from the harsh Canadian cold. But your homes need protecting too.
Steps to preventing frozen pipes should be initiated before the winter season comes knocking at your door – preferably during the fall. Here is everything you need to know about why frozen pipes can present issues, and how to proactively prevent them from succumbing to winter’s wrath:
Why do pipes burst in the winter?
While most of Canada experiences the winter a little differently, most regions of the country will endure a period of frigid temperatures that can pose a severe threat to unprotected pipes running down your property.
It’s simple, really. In extremely low temperatures, water left inside pipes expands as it freezes. Unprotected metal or plastic pipes are no match against the crushing force of the expanding ice. It’s a battle between the ice and the pipes, and the former wins almost every time!
What happens when your pipes burst?
Two words – expensive repairs!
Restoration and plumbing services are swamped with calls during this time of the year. Many of these calls are from distressed homeowners seeking help to repair ruptured pipes. Even though older homes and properties in the northern part of the country are more prone to frozen pipes, it can happen anywhere. If left unattended, water from a waterline will continue flowing uncontrollably through the break in your pipe, potentially leading to flood or water damage to your floors and walls, including (gulp) mould!
How do you prevent frozen pipes?
These five tips can come in handy to protect exposed pipes from freezing and/or rupturing this winter:
- Check for signs of damage.
If you’re vigilant enough, there’s a chance that you might notice the signs of damage beforehand and take care of it immediately. Check your pipes regularly and contact a reliable plumbing service if you do notice any minor signs of damage.
Depending on the condition of the pipe, they will either replace or repair it. That’s far better than spending money on repairing property damages due to flooding. If you’re planning a getaway, request a friend, relative, or neighbor keep a watchful eye on your home and pipes while you’re away.
If it’s an extended holiday, draining and shutting off the main water line is an even better idea.
- Keep your abode warm.
This may seem obvious given how harsh the cold weather can be, but many people lower the thermostat during the day while they’re out of the house to save energy, or at night.
And while that’s commendable, lowering the temperature a bit too low can cause the water inside the pipes to freeze, increasing your risk of rupture (if not attended to in time). Try to keep the temperature of your home above 21 degrees Celsius, particularly during a period of extreme cold weather.
Also, now is the perfect time to make sure any cracks in the walls are sealed off to prevent cold air from sneaking in. Not only will this protect your pipes, but by preventing heat loss, you’ll help your home’s heating system to run more efficiently.
- Open up some doors and shut others!
To prevent your pipes from rupturing, it’s helpful to allow warm air to circulate around your house’s plumbing. You can do so by opening your kitchen, closet, attic and bathroom doors (and even your cabinets, if you want to go a step further), especially during colder winter nights. This is also recommended practice if you’ll be out of the house for an extended period over the holidays.
But some doors should remain shut. Keep exterior doors like garage doors closed as much as possible, especially if you have water pipes in this area.
- Insulate pipes.
Unlike most of the above measures, this one would require some investment on your part. But the good news is, pipe insulation is quite inexpensive, especially if you compare it to the cost of repairing or replacing a burst water pipe!
Your basement, garage, or attic are amongst the most unheated interior spaces. Therefore, it’s important to adequately insulate pipes that run in these spaces. You can buy foam, polyethylene, or fiberglass insulation – even adding an insulating barrier like a thick wool blanket, can help to protect exposed pipes in drafty areas like the garage.
- Apply electrical heating tape.
This is a great remedy for easily accessible pipes. By using either a manual or self-monitoring electrical heating tape, you can help your pipes to retain some of that heat. The self-monitoring tape comes with a built-in sensor that detects if the pipes require more heat, before turning itself on.
A manual one, on the other hand, requires you to plug/unplug the tape.
Whether you need preventive maintenance checks, or drain repairs to undo the damage that’s already been done, contacting a plumbing expert is the best approach, and will help you enjoy the winter months with peace of mind! Reach out to Sewer Squad Plumbing & Drain Services– Toronto’s trusted plumbing team – for more winterization tips and tricks to keep your home running smoothly, year-round!