Insider tips to prevent frozen pipes and water damage

Close up of frozen orange water pipe damage with icicles hanging
2 minute read  

With winter officially here and the cold weather taking over, now is an opportune time for home and business owners to prepare themselves to avoid the high costs of water damage caused by frozen pipes. Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims in Canada, and often the damage happens when no one is home. We’ll cover what causes frozen pipes to burst, how to detect a broken pipe and 6 ways to prevent this type of water damage to your property.

Protecting your property from water damage

Frozen pipes occur in unheated spaces when the water inside turns into ice. As the water freezes, it expands with as much as 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, causing the pipe to burst. A burst pipe can result in water damage throughout your home or business property—and that can be a very messy situation!

How do you know if you have frozen pipes?

  • Smell: If your sinks, toilets, bathtubs, or drains have a bad odor, it can be the result of a broken pipe.
  • Lack of or no water running: If your pipes are frozen, it can cause minimal or no water to run through your faucets or bathtubs.
  • Wet or frosted pipes: The clearest way is noticing exposed pipes that are wet or iced. This can be an indication to turn off your faucets to prevent them from bursting.
  • Damp walls and ceilings: If you notice your walls and ceilings are damp, it can be from water leaking through. Pipes located in basements or attics are more likely to freeze due to the colder temperatures.

Tips to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter

  1. Turn up the heat: Raising the temperature of your thermostat will increase heat in your rooms and floors preventing pipes from freezing. Try to keep the temperature the same during the day and at night. If you’re leaving your home or business for an extended period of time, make sure you leave the heat on to prevent the cold weather from taking over. This may sound costly, but it’s much better than the cost of repairing a burst pipe.
  2. Keep a temporary repair kit handy: To prepare for a potential burst pipe, consider purchasing an inner tube repair kit, such as a fiberglass wrap, as it will create temporary insulation.
  3. Let your faucet drip: Cold weather creates pressure in pipes, which can result in a pipe burst. When you leave the faucet to drip slightly, it lowers the pressure inside the pipes.
  4. Add some insulation: Frozen pipes tend to occur more in your basement and attic as these spaces are typically colder than other areas. Consider adding some extra insulation to these rooms and use a foam board or fiber glass sleeves to help keep the heat in.
  5. Open your cabinets: Pipes are usually located inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, so opening the doors will allow warmer air to flow through.
  6. Turn off the water: If you notice a frozen pipe, turn off your water and apply heat to the section of the pipe until the frost is removed. You can do this with a blow dryer or by placing a heated pad over the pipe. Finally, open the faucet to allow water to flow through.

If you’re a home or business owner, you should take the time to check whether your current policy will cover any damage as a result of frozen or broken pipes.

Stay tuned to this blog to learn more about protecting your business from potential risks.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.