Preparing Your Plumbing for Winter

Outside Your HomeA sink tap with running water.

  • Disconnect your garden hoses and make sure outdoor hose bibs are drained.
  • If your hose bibs are equipped with inside supply valves, keep them open to drain and to allow remaining water to expand. Otherwise, close them once drained.
  • Drain water from swimming pools and water sprinkler supply lines (following manufacturer's directions).
  • Cover exterior pipes or pipes that are in unheated spaces. This can be done by wrapping the pipe with electrical heating tape or “sleeving” the pipe with insulation.

Inside Your Home

  • Insulate basements, crawlspaces and attics. Temporarily place foam in exterior vents and in any gaps where pipes run from inside to outside your home.
  • Seal (caulk) cracks around doors and windows, to minimize cold air from entering your home.
  • If you have plumbing in the garage, keep garage doors closed.
  • Open cabinet doors so the heat from the rest of the house can circulate around plumbing.
  • Allow faucets to drip. In extreme temperatures, allowing faucets connected to exposed pipes to drip will help prevent water from freezing.
  • Keep your current thermostat setting. If you will be away, keep the thermostat set to at least 12 degrees Celsius day and night.
  • Alert a trusted neighbor if you'll be away more than a few days. Ask them to periodically check on the measures you have taken to prevent pipes from freezing.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

You can try the tips below to help thaw frozen pipes. It is usually best to call a licensed plumber. Never use extreme heat or open flames, such as a heat gun, blow torch or propane heater, to thaw pipes.

  • Aim a hair dryer at the pipe and move it back and forth and around the pipe.
  • Wrap the pipe with an electric heating pad.
  • Position a space heater near the pipe to circulate warm air if there is space to do so safely (make sure it is kept away from flammable materials).

What to do if Pipes Break

Make sure you know where the water supply enters your home:

  • Locate the water shut-off valve in your basement or crawlspace.
  • Maintain easy access to this valve at all times.
  • Shut off water in the event of a break.

If you find yourself unsuccessful at stopping the water supply from entering your home, call our Operations Department at 604.793.2810 (or 604.792.2233 for after-hours emergencies).