How to Avoid Freezing Pipes in Winter

January 8th, 2021

An important part of winterizing our homes for Canadian winters includes preparing our water pipes to withstand the cold temperatures to prevent them from freezing and bursting. Burst water pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

Taking time to protect your plumbing from freezing is worth the effort and cost to avoid the inconvenience and expense of replacing burst pipes and dealing with potential flooding and water damage to your home.

Pipes are susceptible to freezing in temperatures between -6C and -15C. When the thermometer dips below -15C, uninsulated pipes are especially at risk of freezing and bursting.

While we can’t control the weather, there are things that homeowners can do to protect their plumbing during cold weather. In this article, the plumbing specialists at Plomberie Richard et Fils in Montreal will share 5 tips for protecting your pipes from freezing in the winter.

1. Insulate Pipes

Hardware stores sell specifically designed pipe insulation. It is most commonly made from fibreglass, polyethylene or foam and is an inexpensive way to insulate your pipes against the cold. Areas to concentrate on include pipes in your attic, garage, basement or other unheated areas of your home.

2. Seal Cracks and Openings

Even the smallest of cracks and openings in the exterior walls of your home and garage can admit enough wind and cold air to freeze your pipes. Important areas to check for cracks and openings include:

  • Around doors and windows
  • Holes for cables such as phone, internet and tv cables
  • Holes for gas, water and exhaust pipes
  • The sill plates between your foundation and exterior walls

3. Keep Garage Warm

The concrete surfaces in garages are notorious for retaining cold temperatures and this makes water supply lines which pass through garages especially vulnerable to freezing. Some simple ways to keep your garage as warm as possible without heating it include:

  • Close your garage door when not in use
  • Insulate any exterior walls that were left unfinished during construction
  • Close the bottom gap under your door by adding weather stripping or adjusting the spring

4. Let Faucets Drip

If there is a constant flow of water, even a small drip, the pipes won’t freeze. Faucets which are fed by pipes which are most exposed to cold (e.g. on an exterior wall) can be left open with a very small stream of dripping water to prevent them from freezing and possibly bursting. In the event of extremely cold conditions, the running faucet will relieve pressure build up in pipes that start to freeze despite efforts to keep them warm.

5. Circulate warm air

In the winter time it might seem counterintuitive to heat all rooms of your house even if they are empty. On the contrary, it is important to make sure warm air is circulating in all areas of your home in order to keep your pipes from freezing.

Some simple ways to ensure that you have good air circulation during the winter include:

  • Set your thermostat to a consistent temperature day and night with the fan on
  • Keeping all interior doors open to bedrooms, the basement, etc.
  • Opening cabinet and closet doors for a few minutes each day to allow warm air to enter
  • Leaving cabinet and closet doors open during extremely cold nights and during extended periods of absence (e.g. while on holidays)
  • Do not turn off your heat during periods when you are away

By following these simple steps you can help prevent your water pipes from freezing during cold weather and avoid the disruption and cost that comes with flooding and water damage due to burst plumbing.

If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of having a burst pipe, do not delay in calling in a professional plumber. The problem will not fix itself when the ice thaws and will most certainly result in a severe water leak.

The plumbing specialists at Plomberie Richard et Fils are able to help you with your frozen pipes if you live in the greater Montreal area. We know Canadian winters and have all of the experience and know-how how to help you protect your water pipes from freezing. Reach out with any questions you have, we’re here to help!

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