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Save your pipes—and your home—from winter’s icy powers

In the Disney animation film, Frozen, an entire kingdom becomes covered in snow and ice, trapped in an eternal winter under the spell of Snow Queen Elsa. In the film, fearless Princess Anna must find her estranged sister to break her icy spell. See?—Even Disney films know how problematic freezing ice can be.

Freezing pipes is a nightmare that haunts British Columbians each winter. Water within pipes expands as it gets close to freezing and this increases the pressure inside the pipe which can cause pipes to crack or burst, spilling water everywhere and wrecking your home. This winter, let’s tap into our inner ‘Princess Anna’ and save the pipes in our homes from freezing over.

What you need to know

Exposure to quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low can result in water freezing within pipes.

Look for pipes and faucets that are exposed to cold temperatures such as those located outdoors or within exterior walls and unheated areas such as the garage, crawl space and attic. Then, insulate those pipes and faucets or keep the area around them warm.

Do this before winter arrives: Frozen pipes check list!

  1. Drain outdoor faucets as well as in-ground irrigation systems. If the weather in your area gets extremely cold, cover outdoor faucets with an insulation kit.

    Step 1: Shut off water flow to outside faucets

    Step 2: Detach garden hose

    Step 3: Turn faucet on in order to drain out leftover water

  2. Wrap exterior pipes or those within exterior walls or unheated areas of your home using insulation sleeves, heat tape or approved pipe heating cables.
  3. If possible, heat or insulate areas where pipes are located. Use insulation to seal air leaks around windows and doors near water pipes. Keep doors to rooms and cabinets that have water supply in them open to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  4. Know the location of your main water shut-off valve and how to turn it off, and make sure your family knows this, too. Test the valve to make sure it's working properly and label it with a tag.
  5. Speak with your insurance advisor to check that you have adequate water damage coverage with your home insurance. Learn more about BCAA’s water damage coverages: Outdoor drain and surface water coverage, Extra roof leak coverage and Flood coverage.

Going on a winter vacay?

  1. Set your thermostat no lower than 12 degrees Celsius.
  2. Choose one of the following:

Make arrangements for someone you trust to check your home to ensure that the heat is maintained or if needed, shut off the water supply, or shut off the water supply and drain plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems.

BCAA home insurance tip!

If you decide to keep your water supply running while you’re away, BCAA only requires you to have someone check your home every other day after 2 consecutive weeks of you being away, otherwise, have your pipes and appliances drained.