4 Tips to prevent pipes from freezing and what to do if they do

While Vancouver and surrounding parts of the Lower Mainland don’t typically see temperatures dip below freezing, changing weather patterns have made our winters increasingly unpredictable. Take December 2016 for example, when we saw the lengthiest cold snap in 30 years plague our city. But unless you happen to be a plumber, it’s unlikely you were thinking about the pipes in your Vancouver area home during this time. Sadly, more than one of our clients suffered the consequences and had to deal with a burst pipe. This year, we want all of you (whether in Langley, Burnaby or elsewhere in the Vancouver area) to protect your plumbing from potential freezing.

Here’s how:

  1. Drain your outdoor plumbing
    Hoses, sprinkler system and pools should all be drained in the autumn. If you’re doing this yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Hoses should be completely removed before winter. Also be certain to close the inside valves feeding outdoor plumbing, letting any water remaining in the pipes to drain out completely by leaving all outside taps open.
  2. Insulate your pipes
    Pipes that are located in unheated parts of your home (garages, crawl spaces, attics, etc.) should be insulated to protect them from freezing in case the temperature drops. In addition, you may generally want to beef up the insulation in these parts of your home.
  3. Leave the heat on
    If the temperature is expected to drop overnight, it’s a good idea to leave the heat on while you sleep. Additionally, if you’re heading out of town to go on vacation, be sure to set your thermostat before you leave to no lower than 13 °C.
  4. Keep garage doors closed
    If you have water pipes or faucets in your garage, make sure you keep the doors closed to prevent cold air from coming in and causing them to freeze over.

If your pipes do freeze

The first thing to do if you have a frozen pipe is to turn on the nearest faucet. Running water will help as you attempt to thaw out the pipe. Use a hair dryer or portable space heater to try and warm up the frozen part of the pipe. You can also apply hot towels or heating pads. However, never use an open flame device to thaw a pipe, as this is highly dangerous. Keep applying heat until water pressure is completely restored. Once it is, you should open all other faucets to make sure you don’t have any other blockages.

When to call a plumber

If the pipe isn’t easily accessible or you simply can’t thaw it on your own, then give us a call at Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating. Our company services all of greater Vancouver, including Burnaby, Langley, Tsawwassen and most of the Lower Mainland. Our plumbers are adept at resolving both commercial and residential plumbing problems. Contact us when you need a plumber and keep our emergency number handy (604-879-5301), just in case.

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