Dealing With Frozen Water Pipes

Friday, January 24, 2014

Frozen water pipesAfter a year in which overland flooding was a major problem in Canada, most homeowners understand that home insurance doesn't provide coverage for these weather-related disasters, mainly because they're typically very rare in the country, especially when compared to the U.S.

However, there are exceptions to this. For example, if water pipes on a home burst due to cold weather, causing water damage as a result, these scenarios are provided for.

That said, no one wants to have to go through the experience of filing a claim, never mind the inconvenience that comes with not having a supply of water, as many of the things done on an everyday basis in the house requires it. With this in mind, here are a few tips for how to prevent water pipes from freezing during the winter, as cold temperatures have gripped much of the nation as of late, largely due to the low pressure system known as the Polar Vortex.

  • Keep the tap turned on. The single-most influential factor on water pipes bursting is when the temperature is in the single digits and negative numbers. And one of the best ways of avoiding an explosion in these conditions is by having the water running. When the temps go down, turn on the water on at the home's main faucet so that a steady, slow stream leaks out.

  • Pipes should be insulated. Just as the home needs an enclosed space to stay warm, so too do the water pipes. That's why it's important to insulate the pipes, especially if they're exposed to air in portions of the house that are susceptible to cold, like the attic or in the basement.

  • Remove hoses on backyard valves. In the busy winter, it's not unusual to forget to take care of a few things when putting the gardens to bed. If hoses are still attached to the home's water supply, they should be disconnected. It's also a good idea to shut off the valve inside the home for water that's used for exterior purposes.

  • Maintain a steady temperature in the house. People have different comfort levels when it comes to the thermostat. As such, it may be increased or decreased, depending on who's at home. But water pipes like consistency. That's why it's recommended that the thermostat be kept at a constant temperature, even in the night when everyone is in bed. This may cost more in oil expenses, but it avoids running the risk of the pipes freezing on frigid winter evenings. Ideally, it shouldn't be any lower than 12 degrees Celsius.

Following these tips can dramatically cut the risk of pipes freezing. Every now and then, though, the cold weather may prove to be no match for even the most proactive of measures. Homeowners have many options to consider. For example, if they're really unfamiliar with fixing problems, they can turn to a plumber. They may either fix it themselves or talk you through how to correct the issue, depending on the situation.

If a hair dryer is available, blowing out hot air on frozen pipes may do the trick. The coldest portions of the pipes should be thawed out first, which are usually closest to the faucet. It's also recommended to turn on all the faucets in the house if the water pipes have frozen, turning off the main shutoff valve.
For homeowners who are more visual learners, CBC News recently spoke with home renovation expert Jon Eakes about water pipes freezing, posting the how-to video at its website.