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Pipe maintenance

Maintain your water pipes to avoid costly repairs

When water freezes, it expands. This can cause your water pipes to burst.

Taking care of your water pipes and meter can help prevent frozen pipes.

Steps to preventing frozen indoor pipes

Take these steps to avoid frozen pipes:

  1. In the fall, before the first frost, find your water shut-off valve and turn it off. The water shut-off valve is inside, close to where your outside taps come into your home.
  2. After you’ve closed your outside shut-off valve, unscrew your garden hoses. Open your outside taps to drain them.
  3. Look for places where your inside pipes could freeze, such as:
    • Your basement.
    • A crawlspace.
    • Near an outside wall or window.
    • Places near a cracked foundation.
  4. Seal these areas to keep the cold out and the heat in.
  5. Look for your water meter in the lowest part of your home, your basement or a crawl space. Meters are typically next to the main water shut-off valve or tap to a home.
  6. Protect the pipes on your water meter by attaching a low-wattage wrap heater, heat tape, heat cables controlled by a thermostat or foam pipe insulation.

Be sure to use these products only as directed. Also check to see it has safety certification such as the Canadian Standards Association or Underwriters Laboratories Inc.

More tips to prevent freezing pipes

Keep the temperature in your home no lower than 15 C (60 F). If your water meter in a cabinet, leave the doors open so warm air can reach the meter.

If you’ll be away from your home for a long time:

During severe cold spells, homeowners may experience difficulties with frozen water pipes and water meters.

To thaw frozen pipes

  1. Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe (commonly adjacent to an exterior wall or where the water service enters the home through the foundation).
  2. Leave a cold water tap downstream of the location open, so that when the water begins to flow again, you know the pipe has thawed.
  3. Apply heat to the suspected area (section of pipe) by using one of the following methods:
    • electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe,
    • electric hair dryer

If you are not able to locate the frozen pipe, or are unsure of what to do, contact a licensed plumber.