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Winterizing your home is always a big project, and as winter descends on the Ottawa area, getting your home ready for winter and cold weather is one of the best ways to protect it.

Any temperature below -15 degrees Celsius is generally a cause for concern when it comes to freezing pipes, yet many homeowners leave it to chance. Frozen pipes lead to burst pipes and that can mean thousands of dollars in repair and a headache you just don’t need during the holiday season. Get ahead of the issue by preventing it with these helpful tips.

Are you worried about your outdoor faucet freezing? We have tips on how to handle that too!

Why Do Pipes Burst?

Why Do Pipes Burst?Put simply, they just get too cold. The cold air in your home causes the water pipes to contract, and the water begins to freeze and expand until the pipes can’t take the pressure anymore. That is why it’s so common to see this issue in the winter, with temperatures in Ottawa getting to the minus twenties and thirties.

Copper pipes are most likely to burst, although plastic pipes are not immune from severe cold and can burst as well. Thankfully keeping your pipes from freezing isn’t hard. It simply requires some forethought.

How Do I Know My Pipes Are Frozen?

One of the first signs of frozen pipes is that water pressure has dropped significantly. If you turn the tap on and water is reduced to only a trickle out, or pressure is significantly lower than usual, it may be well on its way to freezing. There are other warning signs to look out for:

Bulging Pipes: caused by the expanding water with ice forming, a bulge in your pipe is a sure sign.

Gurgling: Sometimes, you’ll hear banging or gurgling in your pipes if they haven’t quite frozen completely yet. It is the sound of ice flowing through your pipes and knocking against them as it travels. If you hear that sound, it won’t be long before your water pipes are frozen and blocked completely.

Frost/Condensation: The most obvious sign is frost or condensation on your pipes, usually in spaces lacking insulation. Occasionally, you’ll see small cracks as well.

Remember that once your water pipes are frozen, if it seems like they are about to burst, you may want to cut off the main water supply to prevent water damage and a big, expensive mess to clean up.

6 Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes:

1. Seal Cracks & Crawl Spaces

This is the most important step and the most effective thing to do, including sealing up your attic. This will prevent hot air from escaping, make your heating more effective (and cost you less), and prevent the temperature from fluctuating and creating condensation on your pipes; which will drip and cause long-term water damage and mold.

2. Insulate Pipes

You might want to insulate your pipes with foam insulation to keep the temperature from fluctuating and prevent pipes from freezing. It will also prevent condensation and help keep your hot water bill low and conserve more water. There are other DIY options as well but they are typically less effective.

3. Keep Heating On

Home thermostat systems are equipped with sensors, usually placed in common areas meaning basement areas and spots lacking in insulation are several degrees colder than elsewhere in the house. Especially in some of our older Ottawa homes, this is how many frozen pipes happen.

4. Faucet Drip Method

Faucet Drip MethodIf temperatures are dipping extremely low, allowing just a slight trickle of water to run out of one or two faucets. This keeps the water moving through your plumbing system, and running water is less likely to freeze. This isn’t a permanent fix, but when cold weather hits and cold water pipes have no insulation, it will keep your pipes from freezing and bursting.

5. Keep Interior Doors Open

The pipes under your counters and in your closets are at risk for freezing first because airflow is limited and will keep colder than other pipes. Keeping the cabinet doors open will let warm air circulate better. Kitchen and bathroom cabinets especially will have water supply lines, and when those pipes freeze, they are difficult broken pipes to fix.

6. Close the Garage Door

Garages tend to be the least insulated places in any home. The concrete floors and exposed pipes mean a high risk for freezing. Keeping your garage doors closed will help prevent freezing and keep your heating bill low.

If you do have a frozen pipe, there are a few things you can do. Apply heat, shut off the water lines, pour hot water down your drain and apply heat tape to exposed pipes to help thaw frozen pipes.

If you need help winterizing your pipes or someone to help fix your frozen pipes, book a visit from one of our techs now!

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