Ways to prevent freezing pipes is important for everyone to refresh their knowledge on during this season. Freezing pipes can be a big problem in many parts of Canada. When water freezes, the molecules expand. Frozen water inside pipes can cause pipes to expand, stressing the pipes and joints. Water pressure buildup between ice in the pipes and the faucet or valve can lead to a burst. Even if caught quickly, a burst pipe can cause significant damage to your home. Left unnoticed, such as when no one is home, the damage to your home and belongings can be massive.

Burst pipes are an expensive and messy experience no homeowner should have. However, as temperatures dip below zero degrees during the cold winter months, there’s a risk that water inside your pipes could freeze, expand, and burst your pipes—creating a major inconvenience and expense for you and your family.

Consider these steps to prevent frozen pipes

Before cold weather hits:

– Insulate outdoor pipes or pipes in unheated areas.
– Drain water lines for pools and sprinklers.
Consider using a service for  “winter shutdown” of  sprinklers or pools.
– Disconnect hoses and cover outside spigots with foam covers. If  possible, turn off water lines for outside spigots.

During cold weather months:

– Keep interior temperature set at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Keep doors open inside your home to allow heat to circulate. Also attend to drafts, sealing off cold air from outside.
– Open cabinet doors near sinks to allow warm air to reach plumbing.
– Turn on faucets to a slow trickle. A lake freezes before a river; flowing water helps prevent freezing.

If you have a frozen pipe:

– If no water comes out of the faucet or flow is reduced to a trickle, the pipe may be frozen, but not yet burst. Thaw the pipe with a hair dryer or space heater, moving heat over the length of the pipe. After the pipe is thawed, address drafts or similar conditions that can cause freezing to prevent the pipe from freezing again.

– You can also use hot towels or a heating pad to thaw pipes, but do not leave heaters or heating pads unattended or positioned near anything flammable.

– If a pipe bursts or is leaking, turn off the water supply to the pipe and work quickly to address small spills. The pipe will need repair. For larger amounts of water, you may need to contact your insurer or insurance broker about damage to your home or belongings. However, in many cases, this step is not needed and spills can be mopped up without professional remediation.

Keep in mind, if you’re not the do-it-yourself type, it’s worth the money to hire a plumber to make sure your pipes are ready to go the distance this winter. And, if you have questions about what your insurance covers should your pipes burst, don’t hesitate to call your insurance broker.