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Preventing Frozen Pipes: A Serious Issue at Home

January 9th, 2014  |  Insurance

With the extremely cold winter weather we have been experiencing in Ontario in the past few weeks, homeowners need to pay extra attention to their home to make sure it is prepared to hold up against the threat of frozen pipes.

Frozen pipes are one of the biggest and most expensive threats to homeowners during the winter season. Having your pipes freeze, is at best an inconvenience, and at worst, a costly expense. This is why it is so important to be proactive and take the necessary steps to ensure that your pipes are protected during the winter.

How do pipes freeze?

Pipes freeze when they are not properly insulated and are exposed to freezing temperatures. And, when they do freeze, so does the water inside of them. What happens when water freezes? It expands, but unfortunately, pipes do not expand, which puts them under extreme pressure and could lead the pipe to crack or burst entirely.

However, the real issues with a frozen pipe that has cracked usually rear their ugly head when the temperature warms up. The frozen water in the pipes acts as a patch or stopper, that is, until the ice thaws, which leads to water leaks in your home.

How do I know if my pipes might be frozen?

One of the easiest ways to tell if your pipes are frozen and may be cracked is a reduction in water pressure in a particular faucet. For example, if the rest of your home’s faucets have regular water pressure, but the bathroom faucet in the basement has lower than normal pressure, it may be a sign that you have a frozen pipe.

If you think you have frozen pipes, call a plumber immediately to assess the situation. They will be able to check out the pipes, and prepare them before they become a more serious issue.

What can I do to prevent pipes from freezing?

  • Try to avoid exposing pipes to the elements
  • Insulate any pipes that could be impacted by the temperature outside
  • Turn off the main shutoff valve if you are experiencing an extended power outage
  • Make sure you disconnect your hose outside and shut off the water valve to all exterior faucets
  • Drain your water heater during power outages to prevent potential damage
  • If you pipes are already frozen, call for help

Taking these proactive steps to prevent your pipes from freezing will save you the hassle of a broken pipe, leak or even a flooded basement - and the costly repair bill that goes along with it.

What step do you take to prevent your pipes from freezing? Have you had your pipes burst in the past? How much damage did you have? How long did it take to clean up? 

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