Why is to important to prepare your pipes for winter?
Pipes and cold temperatures don’t mix well, because water inside pipes expands when it freezes, which can in turn lead to burst pipes and water damage. In a secondary residence that isn’t used in the winter, the sinks and other plumbing fixtures can be treated with antifreeze, but in the primary residence care must be taken to maintain temperatures that are well above freezing.
Piping is often hidden inside walls and in the basement. In Quebec, there are still tens of thousands of homes with their pipes in crawlspaces barely one metre high. It’s important to heat such spaces with baseboard heaters.
As for mobile homes, they don’t rest on a concrete slab, so their pipes are exposed to the elements. There too, heating cables should be installed to ensure that the pipes continue to work well. Polystyrene sheaths or glass wool insulation can also be used. Hardware stores are a good source of advice about this.
In periods of extreme cold, it’s also wise to keep cupboard doors open if there are pipes inside. It’s up to you to determine which areas are most vulnerable and find preventive solutions.
In some cases a hair dryer can be used to help break up an ice plug.
However, if the entire house runs out of water due to freezing, you’ll have to hire a plumber. In some cases, municipal utilities may be at fault—the pipes buried under the streets freeze not because of the cold, but because of a sudden mild spell. The warmth forces the cold down deeper and creates conditions conducive to freezing. You should therefore check with your municipality, because it may provide help with thawing.
One good tip is to let a trickle of water run through one of your faucets to prevent ice formation inside the pipes.
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