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Freezing Climates & Frozen Pipes: How to avoid costly damage

It would seem as though this winter is never going to end. On February 17th, the National Post and CBC reported how the recent cold snap caused a deluge of broken water mains and burst pipes. Here at Anta Plumbing, we’ve worked tirelessly to restore as many services every day as we possibly can, and would like to thank our clients for the hot cups of coffee when we needed it most.

plumber-fixing-water-pipe-in-snow
Earlier this month, temperatures dropped below -20 for several days, taking its toll on homes and business premises across the city, and costing thousands in repairs. On average, the damage from a burst pipe could result in more than $5,000 in repairs.

In less than a week, there were more than 48 water main breaks, due to the increased pressure on an already aging infrastructure. Even City Hall was victim to the frigid temperatures, as a water pipe in the east tower broke overnight, soaking elevator shafts and offices. However, this year (so far) is nothing in comparison to last year, when cold weather resulted in 1,600 water main breaks.

Dealing With Frozen Pipes (and avoiding costly repairs!)

These tips should help you save money on potential damages.

Be Prepared by Stocking Up on Supplies
Turn Up the Heat
Monitor the Situation

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Dealing With Frozen Pipes (and avoiding costly repairs!)

Property owners in Canada are responsible for their water meters and water pipes, and have to take the necessary steps to ensure that these items are protected from damage. This also applies to unoccupied buildings. If you own a vacant building without heat, call the City to shut off the water supply to the premises.

Obviously, winterization is the first step in avoiding frozen pipes and water meters. While it is too late to apply some of these tips right now, it would be smart to get it done before next winter.

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These tips should help you save money on potential damages.

Be Prepared by Stocking Up on Supplies

patch-kit

Use foam insulation to block foundation vents that lead to crawl spaces. Know where your water shutoff is located.

Buy a temporary patch kit from your local home center. This can be used to seal off burst pipes until your plumber arrives.

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Turn Up the Heat

Turn-up-the-thermostat

It’s not the time to worry about heating bills when a cold snap is bearing down on the city. Turn up the thermostat to increase air pressure in your crawl spaces. Ensure that the temperature in your home and basement never goes below 32F.

You can also keep the cold out by:

  • closing doors and windows tightly, and fill gaps around windows with spray foam insulation. Use pipe insulation to fill the gaps under doors.
  • protect water meters and pips from cold drafts.
  • install storm windows over your basement windows.
  • turn off the water supply to garden hose connections before the freezing temperatures arrive.

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Monitor the Situation

faucet-dripping-slightlyOnce the cold snap is here, allow a faucet to drip ever so slightly, as this can help eliminate freezing.

The first sign of frozen pipes, is reduced water pressure. Check the pipes before you go to sleep and again first thing in the morning. Be particularly vigilant for freezing in unheated areas, near crawl spaces and exterior walls, and around the water meter.

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What to Do When a Pipe is Frozen

You should take great care when pipes freeze in or around your home, as it can cause fires and even death. However, there are some ways in which you can safely thaw frozen pipes.

  • Heat a pot of water on the stove and soak rags or towels in it, before wrapping the towels around frozen sections of pipe.
  • Place a space heater near the frozen pipe, but be sure to avoid using any electrical appliances near standing water and don’t use a blowtorch to frozen pipes.
  • When thawing frozen pipes, start with the section nearest to the faucet, ensuring that the faucet is turned on in order for water to drip out.

If you’re unsure of anything, or if you are facing a plumbing emergency, call Anta Plumbing right away.

Written by Tanya Klien

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