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January 24, 2005
Telephone and power outages with frozen water pipes alert downtown Toronto
At 6:50 this morning, Toronto Fire Services was called to a water main leak at
a hydro substation at 532 Bay St., just north of City Hall.

Consequently, electricity and telephones are out in the area bounded by:
  • Grenville Street to the north
  • University Avenue to the west
  • George Street to the east
  • Pearl Street to the south

Toronto Fire Services are working with emergency crews and hope to have power
and phones back this evening around 7 p.m.

However, more frozen pipe problems can complicate the situation. Thus, Toronto
Fire Services asks the public to take action to prevent frozen water pipes. The
following practices will help prevent pipes from freezing, and help thaw them
safely, if they do freeze.

To prevent freezing:
  • Leave a cold-water tap running slowly, at a level just above a drip.
  • Leave interior cupboard doors under sinks open, especially if the sink piping is adjacent to an exterior wall.
  • Shut off and drain pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Do not turn the furnace thermostat below 12° C (55° F) during absences or at night.
  • Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing: near outside walls; in crawl spaces; and in attics. Many hardware stores carry foam pipe insulation for this purpose.
  • If you plan to be away, have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is on and no problems occur. Alternatively, shut off and drain the water system (except fire sprinkler systems).

To thaw frozen pipes:
  • Locate the suspected frozen area of the water pipe (commonly adjacent to exterior walls, or where your water service enters your home through the foundation).
  • Leave a cold-water tap downstream of that location open, so you know that the pipe has thawed when the water begins flowing again.

When power returns, apply heat to the suspected section of pipe with one of the
following methods:
  • Electric heating pad, wrapped around the pipe.
  • Electric hair dryer.
  • Portable heater (be sure it is not placed too close to any flammable materials).
  • Note: the use of any open flame in the home or any confined space is not recommended, due to the fire hazard and risk from combustion fumes.
  • If you are unable to locate the frozen section of pipe, or are unsure of what to do, contact a licensed plumber.

When the weather warms up:
  • Check unused portions of your water system for freezing damage and leaks to avoid possible flooding damage from undetected split pipes.

For information about frozen water pipes safety tips visit: www.toronto. ca/fire/prevention/frozen_water_pipes.htm

For information about power outage safety tips visit: e/prevention/power_outage.htm

Media contact:
Captain Michael Strapko, Toronto Fire Services, 416-338-9319,
416-807-7140 (cell), 416-334-5223 (pager)



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