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It Is the Perfect Time to Insulate your Pipes

The winter is in full swing and it’s the perfect time to protect your plumbing from the frigid climate. Most homes are fitted with insulation in the roof and walls to stop chilly air from creeping into rooms. In the same way that you prepare your attic and exterior walls for a long and frosty season, you need to take care of your pipes. 

Why should you insulate your pipes?

Insulating your pipes will keep them from freezing when the temperatures start to drop. When you turn on a tap to fill up a glass or to run a bath, nothing will come out of the faucet spout. At most, you may hear strange noises coming from the pipes as it struggles to bring water through.

The problem is inconvenient because it takes away that room’s source of water. If the kitchen sink stops working, it will be harder for you to rinse ingredients and prepare meals. If it affects the pipes in the laundry room, you won’t be able to wash any of your dirty clothes. If it affects your bathroom, you will run into trouble when you try to flush a toilet or take a shower. We don’t realize just how much we depend on our water supply until it’s taken away from us.

A frozen pipe can be an isolated situation, where only one fixture in the house is out of commission for a short time. To check if this is true, residents who discover a malfunctioning faucet should go around the house and test out the other fixtures. Make sure that your supply valve is not turned off or that the water company has not shut off the supply in the neighbourhood.

It is possible that you will have more than one room affected by frozen pipes, depending on where the blockage happens. CityNews covered a story about a family in the Upper Beaches who had freezing pipes impede their ability to use their kitchen or their toilet for several days — they melted snow and boiled the water to use for cooking and cleaning. City workers eventually found that the service pipe leading to the residence was frozen.

Other than the frustrating inconvenience of losing out on cold and hot water, frozen pipes can cause plumbing catastrophes. The ice blockage can expand and put pressure on the pipe, forcing it to burst open and send water flooding out into the house. When residents aren’t home to turn off the water supply valve and call an emergency plumber, the resulting damage can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

Finally, an added perk for insulating water pipes is that it can save you money when it comes to energy costs — hot water pipes can lose their heat when the surrounding temperature is cold. By adding an insulating layer, you can boost the system’s efficiency and shave down your monthly bill.

How do you insulate your pipes?

fiberglass pipe insulation

Start by finding the most vulnerable spots for pipe freezing on the property. These will be areas that have little heating or insulation available to stop the outdoor temperatures from sneaking inside. Popular areas for frozen pipes include:

  • Basements
  • Crawlspaces
  • Laundry rooms
  • Attics
  • Garages

Once you have figured out what pipes you are going to winterize, check if some necessary restorations or replacements need to be made. Insulating a pipe with a crack or leak in it won’t be effective at reducing water damage, or at cutting down your bills. If you spot anything suspicious like puddles under pipes or visible corrosion, you can call us to come over to your house — there isn’t a drain we can’t repair or a leak that we can’t fix in a flash.

After checking for leaks and repairing any that show up, you can pick out the insulation you will use. Look for materials that have high R-Values — this term refers to a material’s capacity for resisting heat flow and insulating other objects. The higher the R-Value, the better it will be for winterizing.

A popular and affordable material choice for insulating cold water pipes is foam tubing — it comes in a variety of diameters and it can be cut into smaller pieces to accommodate different pipe sizes. The tubular sleeves often have slits down the middle to easily slip over the pipes. Then you can secure the sleeves to the pipe and close the slit with strips of electrical tape or duct tape. Do not use foam tubing for hot water pipes because it is a potential fire hazard.

When it comes to hot water pipes, use pipe insulation wrap or strips of fibreglass insulation. Duct tape will be effective at keeping the fibreglass insulation covered and secured to the pipes. You should also consider insulating your water heater by adding a pre-cut jacket over the tank.

What other techniques will prevent frozen pipes?

Along with the insulation, you can try other techniques to keep pipes from freezing like turning up the thermostat and then opening up interior doors to let the heat flow through the entire house. Don’t turn down the heat during certain times of day in order to save energy or money — this sets your house up for an expensive plumbing disaster. You can turn off your thermostat when the weather becomes more moderate and the chances of freezing are much lower.

When news channels are warning viewers of a cold snap, you can avoid frozen pipes by turning on all of the taps in the house so that small drizzles come out of the faucet spouts. The trick will take pressure off of the pipes and stop them from freezing over entirely.

Your pipes are at a higher risk of wrecking the house when you leave on vacation. The house will be unoccupied, so the thermostat will be turned off and the rooms will be unheated. If a pipe freezes, there will be no one there to contact a plumber to thaw them out, and if it bursts, no one will be able to stop the water and call for emergency repairs. You will come home from your vacation to find irreparable damage.

Prepare your pipes before you go on vacation or leave the house empty for a few days at a time. The best thing to do is turn off the house’s main water supply valve. Turn off the water valves next to your toilets because these fixtures can recirculate water even when the house’s supply is off.  

After turning off the supply, you should drain your pipes so that there is no water left inside of them and there is no chance for ice to form:

  • Flush toilets until there is no water left in the tank
  • Turn on all of the sink, bathtub and shower taps to draw water out
  • Force water out of pipe bends with an air compressor

These precautionary steps will make sure that you come back from a long trip and find everything as you left it. It will feel inconvenient to turn the water back on when you return, but it’s much easier to deal with than a flooded basement.

How can you limit flood damage?

It’s always good to have a backup plan, just in case everything goes wrong. Consider calling a local plumbing contractor in Toronto to install flood prevention tools into your basement to protect your home from water damage. Get a sump pump installed in the lowest part of your basement to divert any pooling water away from the property. If you already own one, you should still have it checked by a professional to see if it’s working correctly.

A professional will also be handy for inspecting your pipes and drains. You want to make sure your pipes are clean because leaving all plumbing passageways clear can stop potential floods from happening. For instance, an effective floor drain will get rid of pooling water and limit the extent of a flood’s destruction. A clogged floor drain will rapidly overflow and let the water rush everywhere with no safe exit.

Learn where your home’s water supply valve is located. You will probably find it in your basement not too far from your water heater. If you can’t seem to find it, you can ask a plumber to come and help you. When you see signs of a burst pipe or a flooding fixture, the first thing you should do is go to that location to turn off the supply. You should only do this if the area isn’t an immediate risk to your safety.

If you’re wondering about other ways that Sewer Squad can help you, go to our website to see all of our available services. You can browse our testimonials page to learn why our customers support us and why they continue to give us high ratings based on the quality, price and overall experience that we offer.

Frozen pipes are a common problem in the winter, but they don’t have to be. When you insulate your house and take the right plumbing precautions, you won’t have to worry about defective taps or bursting pipes at all. You can rest assured that your pipes will work fine all season long.

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