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January 13, 2004
Cold weather snap may cause water pipes to freeze
  
Old man winter is finally here with ice, snow and below normal temperatures.
Temperatures are expected to drop to minus 19 degrees Celsius overnight, which
could cause water pipes to freeze in some homes.

With the recent cold snap this past weekend, the City of Toronto's Customer
Service hotline received more than 900 calls from residents complaining about
frozen water pipes or having no water. After City staff completed their
investigations, it was discovered that most of the pipes were frozen inside
residents' homes -- not at the City-owned portion. The City's water supply
pipes are not at risk because frost is not deep enough in the ground at this
time. Residential water pipes were freezing because they were exposed to cold
air. The key areas for frozen pipes appear to be outdoor plumbing against a
concrete wall, plumbing in the basement against concrete block walls that were
exposed to cold winds, or uninsulated pipes in the home that had a wall or
paneling built around them due to a recent renovation.

Residents can avoid frozen pipes during the expected cold spell by taking a few
precautions:
  • If your water pipes are attached to an uninsulated outside wall, remove the clamp from the pipes, gently pull the pipes away from the wall and wrap with insulation
  • If you've experienced frozen pipes before and haven't solved the problem, leave the cold water tap partially open from a faucet inside your home. Keep the water on until the outside temperature rises and stays above minus 1 Celsius
  • Insulate all exposed outside water pipes with specially designed foam pipe covers available at building supply or home improvement stores
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage
  • Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Commercial water customers need to prepare for cold nights as well. Protect fire lines by wrapping all lines exposed to cold temperatures
In the event that your water pipes freeze,
contact a professional plumber for assistance. If you wish to try to thaw it
yourself, be sure to take the following precautions to protect yourself and
your property:
  • Do not use a torch with an open flame - you risk setting your house on fire. In addition, overheating one area can cause the pipe to burst or the joints to pull apart
  • Turn on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room
  • Use a blow dryer aimed at an angle on exposed pipe near the water meter for one or two hours
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the pipe
  • Make sure you know the location of your master shut-off valve. The frozen pipe may already be broken and, when the water is thawed, it will leak. In this case, you will need to shut off the water in your house until the leaky pipe is fixed.
If, after all these measures, you
still have frozen water pipes and/or flooding, contact the City's Water and
Wastewater Emergency number at 416-338-8888, available 24 hours-a-day, seven
days-a-week.

Media contact:
Paulette den Elzen
Senior Communications Co-ordinator
416-392-4310



 

 

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