This could be a cold winter for Torontonians. All the predictions are that we might have a difficult time, although it’s going to take a lot to beat last year’s ice storm and power outage. Either way, your home could benefit from some winter plumbing tips, which can save you a ton of money in repairs if you do them in time.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Forget leak detection—the best way to prevent frozen pipes and the subsequent flooding from happening is to take some basic precautions:

  • The first is to make sure your outdoor faucets are turned off at the source, and that the pipes have been purged of all water. As soon as the first cold spell hits, any water in the pipes will freeze and expand, cracking the pipes. Once it thaws, you’ll have water everywhere.
  • Keep in mind that pipes in unheated parts of your home can also freeze. If you aren’t able to shut off the water supply to these pipes, remember to leave one faucet running at a trickle. Running water can’t freeze, so this will help to keep the pipes open and clear of ice.
  • Insulate any exposed pipes against freezing using foam padding sleeves or special insulating tape. You can use this on both hot and cold water pipes, and it’s essential if you’re planning to take a vacation and turn the heat off.
  • Keep exposed pipes warm by placing a space heater at a safe distance. This isn’t practical in the long term because of the cost of hydro, but it will work for a short period during a cold spell.
  • Every few days, check the pipes in your basement and other parts of the house that are exposed to make sure there are no obvious cracks developing or ice and frost accumulating on them that can cause flooding.

By eliminating drafts in your home, you’ll not only reduce the amount of hydro you use (and your costs!) but you’ll reduce the need for leak detection by helping prevent cold air from reaching pipes in hidden places.

Keep Drains Happy

Keep your household drainage system in good shape by avoiding pouring grease and oil into them. This includes your toilet, because if you have a blockage that results in the need for excavation, it can be problematic while the ground is frozen.

Other Options

  • If you have an automated garbage disposal, run cold water through it before and after use to clear any ice that might have built up inside the pipes.
  • If you find that any of your inlet pipes or outlet drains are freezing, use a hairdryer or heat gun (not a torch or open flame!) to warm them up gently.
  • Run a bit of cold water daily from each faucet, and keep your home warm throughout to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Wait for an interval of 10 minutes between showers to maintain the temperature and the proper water pressure.

By taking precautions, you can ensure a trouble-free winter for your plumbing system and avoid the need for leak detection and plumbing repairs in the Spring.