Beautiful Canadian Winter Brings out the Beast in Plumbing

Canadian winters can be brutal. Cold Canadian air brings problems in drain plumbing Toronto residents dread, including the nightmare of frozen pipes. Those pipes aren’t the only winter plumbing disaster homeowners and renters face though, and there is plenty you can do to guard against them.

After a hard day at work a hot shower sounds inviting, but if the water just won’t get hot, the problem may be with your water heater. Before you panic, check the water temperature on your appliance. It may just be set too low. If your heater is gas, check to see if your pilot light is on. If those things are okay, you might have to call a plumber or service person. A great fall maintenance tip is to have your water heater checked to make certain it is in good order before the temperatures plummet.

Winter can make drains clog more, too. Vent pipes vent sewer gasses to the outside and let in fresh air to your plumbing system. If ice or snow blocks the pipes, your drains could seem clogged. If you think this may be the culprit for your plugged drains, you can try pouring hot water down the pipe openings. Grease and oil should never be poured down drains, but in winter this is especially dangerous to your plumbing. Cold weather can solidify the materials and block the pipe. Other things like hair and food cling to pipe walls more in cold weather as well. You might try keeping a container next to your stove as a receptacle for greases and then dispose of them in the trash.

Water line breaks are more common in winter, and one cause may just be that you haven’t put away summer. Water in garden hoses left attached to the outdoor faucets can freeze, causing pressure to build up in your water pipes. Eventually the pipes may burst. This is easy to prevent by draining all of the hoses when you see the weather changing. You can invest in insulated faucet covers to use once the hoses are drained as well. Another cause of broken pipes could be a blockage around your sump pump drainage, so it’s important to keep that area clear of ice and snow.

Frozen pipes can cause plumbing nightmares as well. Usually this condition happens when there is high water pressure in the water main and the temperature is below freezing. You could suspect a frozen pipe if you have low water pressure coming from a faucet, or no water at all. If the water pressure is low, try running warm water down the drain for a while. If your home has exposed pipes in the basement, you probably won’t have to worry because the heat of your home will keep them from freezing. Pipes located in shut-off areas or in crawl spaces are another matter. To keep pipes from freezing try wrapping them with foam insulation or, in very cold climates, use heated wraps on plumbing in crawl spaces and on outside walls. To keep the problem at bay, you might think about letting water run a bit when temperatures are especially cold. Aim for a flow about the diameter of a pencil, and run both the hot and cold water; hot water freezes too. It also helps to keep cabinet doors under faucets and sinks open during cold weather to circulate the air and keep the pipes warmer.

Other tips for preventing the cold Canadian winter from giving you the shivers are:

Seal any air leaks around outside pipes.

Repair broken windows in areas where there is plumbing.

Close off crawl spaces if you can.

Leave your thermostat set at 55 degrees or higher, even if you are not going to be at home.

If you do have broken pipes, shut off the water to the house immediately. Make certain you, along with everyone else who lives in your home, know where the main water shutoff is. If your pipes are frozen, never leave the faucet open unless someone is at home. If they thaw, they could flood your house. Another tip is to keep the phone number of your plumber posted right beside the main water shutoff.

Winter plumbing problems don’t have to be a worry. With just a little precaution, you can enjoy the beauty of winter in Canada confident you can come home to a warm shower.