Canada's Condominium Magazine

What to do about frozen pipes? Older condominiums and buildings with power-failures are at risk in extreme cold

With extreme cold temperatures forecast to continue over the weekend, the City of Toronto is reminding residents how to prevent drinking-water pipes in their home from freezing. There are also steps that residents can take if they have no water and suspect their pipes are already frozen. These recommendations are from the City of Toronto:

Note: In a condo, if you have an issue, burst pipes or frozen pipes, always call building management first!

 

 

Tips to avoid frozen water pipes in the home

  • Consider leaving a tap open enough for a pencil-thin stream of flowing water, so there is some movement of water in pipes that might be vulnerable to freezing [although be very cautious about potential unit flooding (don’t leave unattended, clean the drain, make sure water is draining properly)]
  • Open kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around plumbing.
  • Insulate pipes most prone to freezing, especially near outside walls [i.e. if your bathroom has an exterior wall — with wind chills below -30C this can be an issue even in a condominium (although less of an issue than a detached home)]
  • If your pipes are prone to freezing, consider contacting a plumber for advice on how best to protect your home.

Steps to thaw frozen pipes

  • Call a plumber or building management, or try to do it yourself (be cautious, work gradually to avoid split or burst pipes)
  • Turn on a tap
  • Use a blow dryer to warm the suspected frozen pipe for one to two hours. Check the blow dryer regularly to ensure it does not overheat.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the suspected frozen pipe.
  • Depending on the outside temperature and the extent of freezing within the pipe, the thawing process could take between one and six hours.
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