The City of Chilliwack is offering tips on how to deal with frozen water pipes. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

The City of Chilliwack is offering tips on how to deal with frozen water pipes. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

City of Chilliwack offers tips on how to deal with frozen water pipes

As water expands when it freezes, it could cause cracks in pipes resulting in leaks: City of Chilliwack

The City of Chilliwack has put out some helpful tips for residents who’ve had water pipes that froze during the recent cold snap.

During the weeks of sub-zero temperatures, many residents have been calling the city about issues with frozen pipes.

“Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes,” the city stated. “No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. As water begins to thaw, it will escape any newly established crack in a pipe or separated joint/connection.”

In case of a leak, make sure you know where the water shut-off valve is in your basement or crawlspace before you start to defrost your pipes.

Here are some ways to thaw frozen water pipes:

• Aim a hair dryer at the pipe; moving it in a sweeping motion, back and forth and around the pipe;

• Wrap the pipe with an electric heating pad. If one is not available, substitute it with towels soaked in hot water. Change these towels frequently as they will lose their heat to the pipe;

• Position a space heater near the pipe to circulate warm air (ensuring that it is kept away from flammable materials).

Never use extreme heat or open flames, such as a heat gun, blow torch or propane heater, to thaw pipes. This presents a fire hazard and can also cause serious damage to the pipe, the city noted.

RELATED: City asks folks to help clear snow from catch basins to prevent pooling water on Chilliwack roads

Folks can prevent water pipes from freezing by being prepared for winter conditions:

• Tell a neighbour 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;

• Disconnect garden hoses and ensure that all outdoor hose bibs are closed and drained. When hose bibs are equipped with inside supply valves, open the hose bibs to allow water to drain and keep the hose bib open to allow any remaining water to expand during freezing;

• Drain water from swimming pools and water sprinkler supply lines (following manufacturer’s directions);

• Insulate basements, crawlspaces and attics. Temporarily place foam in exterior vents and in any gaps where pipes run from inside to outside your home;

• Use caulking to seal cracks around doors and windows, to minimize cold air from entering your home;

• 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;

• Close garage doors. Keep garage doors closed if pipes are located in the garage;

• Open cabinet doors. When the temperature drops, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can circulate around plumbing. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home;

• Allow faucets to drip. In extreme temperatures, allowing faucets connected to exposed pipes to drip with cold water will help prevent water from freezing. It might even be necessary to start a small trickle of both hot water and cold water in rooms that have exterior wall plumbing;

• Keep your current thermostat setting. During extreme weather conditions is not the time to try to reduce your utility bill by lowering the temperature in your home. If you will be away, keep the thermostat set to at least 12 C. Avoid the use of nighttime settings, keep the thermostat set during the night to the same daytime settings.

In the event of a leak when pipes defrost, and if you are unable to stop the supply of water from entering your home, call the operations department at 604-793-2810 (after-hours emergency: 604-792-2233).


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