Tips to Keeping your Home/Water Pipes Warm and Safe During Extremely Cold Temperatures!

We always talk about the more common ways to prevent heat loss in your home, which include windows, door sealings, venting etc. These tips are directed to homeowners during the extreme cold weather conditions other wise known as sub freezing.

1. Space heaters can help with warmth but infrared and sun heaters are more cost efficient and less of a fire hazard.

2. Close doors to rooms that are not used, as long as there is not water in them. See below

3. Fireplaces – If used regularly make sure chimney and vents have been properly cleaned. Block off unused fireplaces as they can suck the heat out of the house.

4. Make sure your furnace or other heating equipment has been tuned up, cleaned, inspected and is ready for the work out. Check propane and oil tanks to make sure you have an adequate amount of fuel to get you through these most frequently used times.

5. All fuel burning equipment should be properly vented to the outside and vents kept clear of snow and other blockages.

6. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. These all create carbon monoxide.

Prevent Water Pipes from freezing & bursting

1. When water freezes in a pipe (typically below -6 Degrees Celsius) it expands which leads to increased water pressure and possible pipe bursts. Usually the pipe bursts upstream from the ice blockage where little or no ice has formed. Creating the risk of increased water damage. Properly protected pipes that are placed within the buildings insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or being heated are most likely safe.

2. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are extremely vulnerable to freezing. If there are cracks that allow cold outdoor airflow across the pipes they are at risk of blockages. In newer construction homes most of the water pipes are placed in heated areas unlike the attic, crawlspaces and vulnerable outside walls. If you have problems with the at risk placement of pipes a plumber can relocate and reroute the pipes through the heated areas of your home. Add insulation to attics, crawlspaces, basements and outside walls if you can.

3. Sealing off outdoor cracks with caulking can reduce the risk of freezing pipes due to cold airflow. As well as insulating the pipes with sleeves or wrapping, in some cases we have even heard of using newspaper. It is important not to leave any gaps when doing this and the more insulation the better.

4. Close off inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs and drain the pipe fully (should be done in early Fall). Keep the outside hose valve open so any water left in the pipe is free to freeze and expand.

5. Hot water supply lines can freeze just as easy as cold lines if they haven’t been running for a while. Consider letting the hot and cold water lines drip a little from a faucet, as this also reduces the risk of a pipe freezing (especially during the night).

6. Learn how to shut off your water valves in case of a pipe burst.

7. Keep garage doors closed to prevent water supply lines from freezing up. On the flip side keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow warm air flow. Harmful cleaners and chemicals should be out of the reach of children.

8. Heating – TEMPORARILY – Keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. Against our save on energy (reducing your utility bill)  best practices the cost of a pipe burst would be far greater than the risk of a lower temperature setting throughout the evening. If you are going away during the cold weather we advise you to leave the heat on.

Thawing out frozen pipes

1. If you find yourself turning on a faucet and there is extremely low water pressure, suspect a frozen pipe. Try and locate the area where the pipe is frozen. Most likely an exterior wall or the foundation pipe in which the water enters your house.

2. Leave the faucet open. When you are treating the pipe the more water running through a blockage will help your melting situation. Plus, you can tell when the water pressure is back up to speed.

3. Using towels soaked in hot water, wrap around the area of the pipe which is frozen. If you are thinking where would I get hot water if both the hot and cold water pipes are frozen, well, hopefully the hot water pipes aren’t frozen. If they both are frozen, get crafty, maybe heat some other liquid up, (milk or beer) just make sure you wipe down the pipe afterwards. Or maybe ask a neighbour for some hot water.

4. Do NOT use any type of flame device like a blowtorch, propane heater, lighter etc. These can make the water boil and the pipe could then explode.

5. Apply the hot liquid soaked towel until the water pressure is back up to speed and then check all other faucets in the house to be sure there are not other pipe freezes in the house.

6. If you cannot locate the frozen area or it is not accessible or you cannot thaw out the pipe, call a locally respected and honest plumber in your town. If you need a recommendation we would be glad to help.

The Golden Rule

1. Last but not least. Do to others as you would have done to yourself! Check on elderly neighbours, friends and relatives who may need of some assistance during these cold days!

Warmest regards and show some furnace love!


If you have any questions, concerns or require additional information please feel free to comment below or contact us at any of the sources provided. We are here to help :), 519.579.5330, Twitter @HoggMechanical, Facebook Hogg Heating & Air Conditioning





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