Avoiding Frozen Pipes this Cold Season – Are You at Risk?

Nadine Evans

No doubt about it: it’s been a cold start to 2018. As North America faces its biggest deep freeze in years, many homeowners are worried about frozen pipes. And they should be – frozen pipes aren’t just inconvenient; a small crack in a pipe can cause gallons of water to flood into your home, resulting in property and structural damage as well as creating ideal conditions for mold growth.

Common Frozen Pipe Misconceptions
Here’s what most homeowners don’t realize: water is unlikely to freeze before it enters your home. The pipes running into your home from the property line are your responsibility (owned by you), rather than the municipality, who generally own the piping leading up to your property (Source). That means that if your pipes freeze within your property line, it’s your financial responsibility. That said, in colder climates, piping typically enters your home underneath the frost line.

Within your home, your pipes are most likely to freeze in areas around the home that are not properly insulated. Piping on exterior walls is particularly vulnerable, with outdoor faucets often being one of the first fixtures to freeze over.

Another common misconception is that pipes are significantly more likely to freeze in colder climates. Homes in warmer climates will have less insultation around pipes than their cold climate counterparts, making them more vulnerable to cold snaps – such as the deep freeze that hit south-eastern parts of the US in January of 2018.

Frozen Pipes and the Risk to Your Home
The early signs of a frozen pipe are:
1. Cold temperatures. Pipes don’t freeze when temperatures are mild. Winter months or unseasonal cold snaps are when a homeowner needs to pay attention.
2. When you turn on a faucet, there’s either no water, or the flow is much lower than usual (such as a trickle of water).
3. Odd odors coming from faucets or drains. This is often a telltale sign that there’s a blockage. (Source).

The best way to avoid frozen pipes is through proper insulation. Areas most prone to freezing such as near exterior walls, in crawl spaces as well as the attic and garage should be examined for potential vulnerabilities. It is wise to do this before the winter season sets in, as you prepare your home for the cold.

If your pipes are at risk, experts suggest keeping the faucets on with a small stream (pencil sized) of water going through the pipes. Further, keep the cabinet doors under your sink in the kitchen and bathrooms open to allow the warm air from your home circulate to the pipes.

If Your Pipes Are Frozen
If you have already experienced a frozen pipe, do not panic! A frozen pipe doesn’t necessarily lead to a burst one, and steps can be immediately taken to resolve or minimize the issue. When water freezes, it expands, and has the potential to rupture the pipe. Only once the pipe has been split does it have the potential to spew water everywhere at an alarming rate, causing considerable damage.

First, know how to locate your water main, and shut the water off. You will need to ensure the water is shut off in your home to ensure damage is minimized.

Once the frozen pipe has been located, it can be thawed. DIYers can use a hairdryer to gently and carefully thaw the pipe (never use a blow torch or any extreme heating source), although in these scenarios it is highly recommended that you contact a licenced plumber.

If your pipe has indeed burst, you will need to respond immediately to mitigate the damage to your home. The water must be shut off at the water main, and you will need the help of a professional plumber to begin the necessary repairs to your home.

How Smart Home Water Monitoring Helps
Intelligent, IoT water monitoring devices that include a remote and automatic shutoff valve at the water main give homeowners’ peace of mind when dealing with frozen pipes. When you are away from your home, water shutoff is as simple as pressing a button. Should a pipe burst when you are not at home and an alert is missed, built-in automatic water shutoff capabilities ensure that the water is turned off. Companies that offer a 24/7 monitoring service provide further protection, guaranteeing that the damage is mitigated as quickly as possible.

Some systems also monitor the temperature of water as it enters your home, providing low temperature alerts that notify you that there is a possible risk of freezing pipes. That said, since most homeowners are in danger of the pipes freezing after the water has entered the home, these alerts may not be enough. In all cases, the more attention you pay to the temperature of your pipes, the better, so you can avoid costly and inconvenient damage to your home, particularly during the coldest times of the year!

Eddy Home’s IQ solution is installed directly on your water main, giving you insights and complete control over your home’s water, including remote and automatic shutoff capabilities. This is a feature many home insurance companies appreciate, with many offering discounts of up to 15% on a home insurance policy for having the Eddy IQ installed.

About Eddy Home
Founded in 2014, Eddy Home is an industry leader in leak protection and water visibility solutions. Our suite of smart products offers a comprehensive water management system for homeowners that protects, controls, and conserves. Our products have saved thousands of customers millions of litres of water by continuously monitoring water usage in their home, and if something unusual is detected, alerting them to the issue. For more details, please contact us at 1 877 388 3339 or email info@eddyhome.com.