Winnipeg is bracing for another winter of frigid temperatures, and the City is recommending that property owners take all measures to protect internal plumbing from freezing.

Credit: Mourial
The City of Winnipeg recommends that property owners take all measures to protect internal plumbing from freezing. Credit: Mourial.

Internal plumbing refers to any pipes, including fittings, valves, and fixtures, which carry water from the point where the private water service pipe enters a building to the taps. In low temperatures, internal plumbing that has not been properly safeguarded is vulnerable to freezing. Factors contributing to freezing include frost depth and weather patterns: snow depth and density, ground cover (e.g. vegetation and concrete), proximity to adjacent infrastructure, atmospheric pressure, exposure to sunlight, initial soil temperature, moisture content of the soil, soil type, weather, and organic matter contained in the soil.

Preventative measures to protect internal plumbing include:

  • Insulate areas of your home containing water pipes, including crawl spaces, garages, and attics;
  • Insulate water pipes (both hot and cold) near the exterior walls, especially those facing north;
  • Weather-seal your windows;
  • Check for air leaks around electrical outlets, dryer vents, and pipes. Seal these leaks with caulking or insulation to keep cold air away from your pipes;
  • Heat areas of your home containing water pipes so that warm air will prevent them from freezing;
  • Keep the garage door closed if there are water pipes inside; and
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks and appliances near outside walls.

As of November 28, 2014, Winnipeg has already had 23 reports of frozen internal plumbing. Property owners can hire a contractor for thawing services at a cost of $305. The City can usually provide same-day thawing services as well.

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