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How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter

Nothing can dampen spirits more than coming home to a burst pipe, an aggravating – and potentially expensive – scenario faced by thousands of Canadians every winter.

How does it happen?

This most often happens when homeowners have headed away for a few days and lowered their thermostat a bit too much. It also occurs if a furnace breaks down during their absence.

Water expands when it freezes and that expansion is one of those unstoppable forces of nature. Ice will crack and break through pipes with relative ease.

A frozen pipe isn’t always obvious

It’s important to know, though, that frozen or burst pipes don’t always result in dramatic, visible water damage. If you return home, turn on a tap, and have no or very low water pressure, something is amiss.

Pipes can freeze in any cold or unheated place: crawl spaces, attics, basements, and even under kitchen and bathroom cupboards. Any pipe running along an uninsulated interior wall is at risk. Know where your potential problem areas are and address them now if you can.

How you can prevent frozen pipes

Before the cold weather hit, you will have disconnected, drained and stored your outdoor hoses. If you have a pool, it, too, was properly closed. You have shut off the interior vales, too, that connect to your exterior faucets.

Now that the cold weather has hit, if you are going to be away from your home, shut off your main water supply and drain the system by running all the taps and flushing the toilets.

If you can’t do that, leave a cold-water faucet that connects to an exterior pipe dripping slightly, to alleviate any pressure in case of potential freezing.

If you are concerned about pipes beneath cupboards, open the doors to let more warm air circulate in them.

Conversely, close your garage doors if you have water supply lines in the garage.

Perhaps most importantly, avoid the temptation to lower the heat in your house too much. Experts recommend you keep it at a minimum of 14 degrees Celsius.