Prevent your pipes from freezing

  • Disconnect all exterior hoses
  • Install covers on all outside faucets.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks – this allows heat from the rest of the home to circulate.
  • Set your thermostat to 20C or higher (even when you’re leaving your home for extended periods).
  • Know where your main water valve and the valve on your water heater are. (Knowing where these valves are will be important in an emergency.)
  • Wrap the pipes that are closest to the exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can help prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Shut the windows closest to water pipes. Freezing conditions combined with drafts may cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Heat your basement and weather seal your windows.
  • Insulate your outside walls and all unheated areas of your home.
  • If you are away from home for an extended period, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

  • Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
  • Inspect the faucet water flow and pressure before your bedtime and again when you rise.
  • Visually inspect the pipes around your water meter, especially in the unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
  • Check for cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney and appropriately seal the gaps that are near pipes.

If a Pipe Freezes

  • Should a faucet or pipe inside your home freeze, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, follow all manufacturer guidelines, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out.

If a Pipe Bursts

  • Shut off water at the main valve.
  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
  • Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.

***This post only highlights examples of safety precautions you can consider to help prepare yourself, others and your personal property for winter freeze. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what’s appropriate.***


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