How to Protect Your Home From Extreme Cold

If you are a homeowner in a cold climate, and especially if you are the owner of an older home in a cold climate, then you might have your winter ritual down pat. Homes need to be protected from the cold, but there’s not exactly an instruction manual on winter maintenance handed to you when you purchase a house. So what exactly are you supposed to do to prevent Frosty the Snowman from wreaking havoc on your house and causing an unwanted Ontario home insurance claim?

Prevent Frozen Pipes

frozen pipesIf temperatures dip significantly for an extended period of time, your pipes run the risk of freezing. This is such a problem because water expands when it freezes and places extreme pressure on the pipes. If your pipes burst, you suddenly have a huge plumbing nightmare and a flooded basement on your hands.

To prevent frozen pipes, you need to check for pipes exposed to the elements or those located in unheated areas like the basement, garage, or crawl space. Wrap these pipes in insulation to protect them from the low temperatures. Insulation can be purchased from a home improvement store or even done yourself with newspaper. You also want to drain any outdoor water fixtures like hoses and, if possible, turn off the water to outdoor faucets.

If the weather hits record lows and you’re concerned about your indoor pipes freezing in spite of the heat in your house, or if the electricity goes out, keep all faucets dripping water. Located the water main cut-off valve so that you can stop the water supply in an emergency.

Treat Frozen Pipes with Care

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, those pipes will freeze anyway. You’ll know this has happened if only a trickle comes out of the faucet when it is turned on. Don’t panic. Instead, keep the faucet on and apply gentle heat to the section of the pipe using an electric heating pad, hair dryer, or space heated. You could also wrap pipes in towels soaked in hot water. Continue to apply heat until the water is running normally out of the faucet. If in doubt, call a plumber! After that, call your home insurance company!