Frozen water services are inconvenient (because building occupants are without water, sometimes for extended periods) and can result in property damage due to burst pipes and damaged plumbing, as well as expensive plumbing costs.
Consider these tips to prevent problems with frozen internal plumbing and avoid costly issues with your privately-owned water service:
- If you suspect that the water service line is frozen, don't delay; call Utilities Kingston right away at
613-546-1181. If the problem is inside the building, with internal plumbing, contact a licensed plumber immediately.
- During periods of extreme and prolonged cold, leave a pencil-thin stream of water flowing from a cold water tap. Please note, you will be charged for the water used if you choose this step to protect your private property.
- Run cold water from the lowest point in the house, usually a laundry room sink.
- Ensure the drain is kept clear of debris to prevent overflowing or flooding.
While our customers' water conservation efforts are important and appreciated, this is a last-resort suggestion that can help a building owner avoid costly issues with their privately-owned water service. Consider placing a sign on the tap to remind occupants to leave the water running.
- Locate your master shut-off valve at the water meter. Ensure it is accessible and operating. This way you’ll know how to quickly turn off the water if a pipe bursts.
- Unscrew outdoor garden hoses, turn off the outdoor water supply, and allow the taps to drain before the first frost.
- Exposed plumbing pipes in exterior walls of your home, unheated basements and crawlspaces could be at risk. Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas, especially near outside walls and in crawl spaces, the attic and garage. This can be done with foam pipe covers available from building supply or home improvement stores. Avoid direct pipe contact with exterior walls.
- Make sure that boxes and other items aren't blocking heat from getting to your water meter or exposed plumbing against exterior walls.
- Seal cracks that let air in, which could potentially blow on exposed pipes. Check around windows and doors, electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Ensure doors and windows are fully closed. Focus your attention on areas where your water lines run along outside walls or come up through floors, or in unheated basements and crawl spaces.
- Consider installing frost-free outdoor faucets.
- If you’re going away, turn off the master shut-off valve and drain the pipes, including external taps.
- Consider other systems in your building, including water heaters and water softeners, as they may be affected when your water is off.
- When in doubt about internal plumbing issues, consult with a licensed plumber.
To check your pipes: touch exposed cold water pipes, for example in your basement or under the kitchen sink. If a spot feels unusually cold (or colder than in other spots) take measures to provide heat. However, don't delay in calling a plumber, as the problem can get worse. Measures you can take include insulating pipes and external walls or opening cupboard doors to improve warm air flow. If you have a frozen internal plumbing pipe, try using a hair dryer to thaw it. (Safety first: never leave a heating device unattended and be careful not to weaken plumbing joints.)
- The City of Kingston emergency management plan suggests that each household has at the ready four litres of fresh water, per person, per day for drinking and bathing.
- Know the number to call: report utility emergencies to us by calling our 24 hour line at 613-546-1181.
- Stay informed: you can keep up-to-date with service disruptions by following Utilities Kingston on Twitter and Facebook, or by checking http://www.utilitieskingston.com