Ask the Plumbing and Heating Expert – Terry Therrien
Every winter, some will experience freezing water pipes, service lines, meters and water outages. Often, frozen water lines and pipes can be avoided with some simple proactive steps in your home.
How to prevent frozen pipes
Look for cold draughts
Check around your home for areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas. Common locations include: basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
Don’t forget both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated. A hot water supply line can freeze just like a cold water supply line if water is not running through the pipe and the water temperatures becomes cold.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve or installing UL-listed heat tape, heat cable or similar materials on exposed pipes.
Find your water shut-off valve
Determine where your water shut-off valve is in your house and learn how to use it. For most homes the shut-off valve is located near the water meter at the point where the water line comes into your home, which usually in your basement.
Protect garage pipes
If you have plumbing in your garage, keep your garage door closed when it’s very cold. Pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated.
Seal your home from winter
Repair broken windows, check doors and insulate areas that allow cold exterior air to enter.
Be prepared when traveling
Leaving during winter? Keep your thermostat set at 15 degrees or higher, and have someone check your house every second day.
Winterize outside faucets
Make sure the water line to outside faucets (such as your garden hose) is turned off, the hoses disconnected, and the line is drained.
What should I do if my water service freezes?
If your house or basement is flooding turn off the main water valve or if you believe your pipes have frozen, turn off water at the main valve and call a plumber.