Frozen water pipes can be a big concern during a prairie winter. Since water expands when it freezes, a frozen pipe can lead to a rupture that will have costly damages.

SGI reported that the number of pipe ruptures in the province in December 2021 was notably higher than what it was in December 2020. The number of pipe ruptures in Moose Jaw through that time doubles.

In the last month of 2020, 197 claims were made in the province, and Moose Jaw made 5 of those claims.

Then in December 2021, 217 claims were made province-wide, and Moose Jaw made 10 claims.

More ruptures will likely be reported in the upcoming weeks with the intense cold snaps in the province.

There are things homeowners can do to prevent and protect their water pipes from freezing.

According to the Red Cross website, pipes that are vulnerable include pipes that are exposed to severely cold weather like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines. Also, water pipes in unheated interior areas like basements, crawlspaces, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets, etc. and pipes that run along the exterior of a building with little to no insulation can be at risk.

Before the cold weather comes knocking, there are a few ways a homeowner can protect their pipes from freezing. If you have a swimming pool or water sprinklers, it’s a good idea to completely drain the water supply following the installation instructions. For outdoor hoses, you should remove, drain, and store them away from direct cold weather. Leaving outdoor valves open can help them drain out and to give any excess water the space to expand. For pipes that are inside, you can add insulation to places like attics, garages, and crawlspaces to protect exposed pipes from the cold. Another option is installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspapers can also work like insulation and protection to exposed pipes.

During the cold months, keeping your garage door closed can prevent pipes from freezing should any pipes be in there. Opening cabinets with pipes inside can allow for warm air to circulate. Also, letting cold water drip from faucets can help prevent pipes from freezing. Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature throughout the day and night will avoid fluctuating temperatures of the pipes so they don’t freeze overnight. Your heat bill may see a small increase but it’s a smaller price compared to having to repair a ruptured pipe.

If your pipes do freeze, it’s possible to thaw them out. If only a trickle of waterfalls out of a faucet when you turn it on, it’s safe to say that your pipes are probably frozen. If you keep the faucet open while trying to thaw out the pipes, the running water will flow through the pipes and help melt the ice. You can use heating tools like an electric heat pad, hairdryer, or space heater on the exterior of the pipes to melt the ice. Wrapping the pipes in towels soaked in hot water can also work. Also, be sure to check all running faucets within the building for other frozen pipes.

You should avoid using a blow torch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. If you can’t locate the frozen area, if the area isn’t accessible, or if you can’t thaw out the pipe yourself, be sure to call a licensed plumber right away to come to thaw the frozen areas before a possible rupture.

 

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