Don't Let Your Pipes Freeze This Winter!
When a house's water pipes freeze, the situation is not as simple as calling a plumber. Did you know that an 1/8-inch crack in a pipe can release up to 250 gallons of water a day, causing flooding, serious structural damage, and the immediate potential for mould.
Here are a few steps you can take to keep your Greater Toronto Area home from having a burst pipe.
Please make sure everyone in your family (or your tenants) know where the main water supply line shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
Common causes of frozen pipes in Toronto are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set too low. Frozen water pipes can happen a house with both plastic and copper pipes. You can prepare your home in the Fall to prevent your pipes from freezing.
Before winter arrives
- Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing. Insulate pipes in your home's crawl spaces and attic. Remember, the more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
- Seal leaks that allow cold air inside near where pipes are located. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes, and use caulk or insulation to keep the cold temperatures out. With extreme weather conditions, even small cracks and openings can let in enough cold air to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Before winter arrives, disconnect garden hoses and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside hose faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
During extreme weather conditions
Even if you think you've done it all to protect your Toronto home and prevent your pipes from freezing, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
- Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you're asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
Before you leave town
Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don't forget to think about frozen pipes before you leave. What can you do?
- If you are going away for an extended period of time (and it it suitable for your home) turn off your water supply line and drain your house. Remember that if you have radiant heat in your home, your boiler may require water supply to heat the house!
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 12°C (55°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbour to check in on your house daily to make sure it is safe and free from any burst pipes or other hazards, while checking that it is warm enough to prevent freezing.
What to do if your pipes freeze
What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best attempts! Firstly - Don't panic. Just because they're frozen doesn't mean they've already burst. Here's what you can do:
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- Never try to thaw a frozen pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire damage. Water damage or flooding is preferable to burning down your house!
- If your frozen water pipes have already burst, turn off the water supply line at the main shutoff valve in your house; leave the water faucets turned on.
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a local plumber.
- Please don't use any electrical devices in areas of standing water. If you see standing water in your house, call a professional and stay away from any electrical hazards - you could be electrocuted!
SERVPRO's experienced team have seen many frozen pipes and burst pipe situations across the Greater Toronto Area and we will be on site within 1 hour - saving you time, effort and costly repairs later. Proudly serving the Greater Toronto Area, we offer safe, professional restoration services for your home or business.