Few Torontonians will forget Christmas 2013 in a hurry. The ice storm came up with about 12 hours warning, and many were still out enjoying holiday parties the night it happened. By midnight, it was coming down and by morning, we knew we were in trouble. Over the next few days, many homes were without power from a few hours up to nine days in the worst cases. Here’s what Toronto plumbers had to deal with in the aftermath.
In spite of being told to leave a faucet running to prevent the water pipes freezing, many homeowners either didn’t do so or it didn’t help. With 350,000 without power at the height of the problem, Toronto Fire experienced four times the usual number of calls for burst pipes. The pipes froze and burst during the cold spell, then as the temperatures rose again and the ice began to melt it caused flooding through multiple homes.
Since the ice storm Toronto plumbing contractors have been very busy repairing drainage systems damaged by downed trees during its height. In some cases, the damage has been caused by trees falling onto the drains and caving them in. In other instances trees uprooted by the weight of the ice on the branches have toppled, ripping their roots through drains located close by as they fell. Whatever the reason, plumbing repairs are essential and those plumbers who offer pipe bursting and replacement have been on the go 24/7.
The morning after the storm died down, residents were complaining that the city looked like a war zone. Debris was everywhere, not just from trees downed and branches dropped but from home damage and rubble as well. The debris swept into the sewers and drains, hardened into ice-bound particles and began causing blockages across the GTA. Storm drains in particular became clogged up, and plumbers have been busy ever since getting them cleared.
Hot Water Heaters
Many people thought they’d have hot water during a power outage because they have a gas-powered hot water heater. After several days without power, however, even those grew cold mostly because the batteries keeping the pilot flame alight died without recharging electrically. Even once power was restored, so many hot water heaters didn’t operate that Direct Energy posted a notice on its website telling customers to open service calls if that was the case. In some cases, thermostats needed replacement while in others the supply lines—and even the heaters themselves—had cracked or burst. Tankless hot water heaters fared a bit better.
Whatever the end result of the ice storm was for you, plumbers in the Toronto area will remember the lessons learned for a long time to come.