The arrival of below zero temperatures brings many headaches for homeowners, not the least of which is freezing pipes. Frozen pipes that burst in the dead of winter can cause costly damage to your home and its contents. Fortunately, preventing frozen pipes is relatively easy and inexpensive. eieihome spoke to Wayne Rampersaud, a technician with Drain Rescue, a GTA residential and commercial plumbing company, about what homeowners can do to winterize pipes.
Rampersaud says exposed pipes can freeze around minus 12 degrees, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for nippy weather to start protecting your pipes. Before the snow hits the ground, turn outdoor taps off for the winter, first allowing the water to drain out of them. After all, during the dead of winter, there’s no need to supply water to your swimming pool or sprinkler system. These outdoor pipes are the most exposed to the cool weather and are the first to freeze. Ensuring your pipes are properly insulated is also important. Foam insulation can be purchased from most hardware stores and makes for an easy do-it-yourself project. It’s especially important to insulate pipes that are on the outside walls of your home as these are the most susceptible to the cold weather.
Once winter arrives, you can take small precautions to protect your plumbing. Regulating the heating throughout your household is the easiest way to prevent frozen pipes. Rampersaud says he keeps his home at a constant 71 degrees, even when he’s not home. He’s seen many homeowners who lower their house temperature when they go on vacation to save money on the heating bill only to return to a flooded basement. “Sometimes when you leave the weather is nice and while you’re on vacation there’s a cold snap,” he says.
Dealing with a Frozen Pipe
If you turn on a faucet and only have a trickle of water, or no water at all, you have a frozen pipe. Turn off the main water supply and call a plumber. They’ll find which pipe is frozen and will use a thawing machine to defrost it. “The machine works like a jumper cable,” says Rampersaud. “It’s run on low-voltage and sends electrical volts through the line.” A plumber will also check the pipe for cracks and will recommend insulating the pipe immediately to prevent it from freezing again, or worse – bursting!