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What to do if you have frozen water pipes at home

The City of Toronto received over 2,000 "no water" calls since Valentine's Day.
The City of Toronto received over 2,000 "no water" calls since Valentine's Day. Getty Images

TORONTO – The City of Toronto has received more than 2,600 “no water” calls since Valentine’s Day.

Toronto Water general manager Lou Di Gironimo estimates 300 of them are a direct result of the city’s frozen underground water supply pipes.

The city says the volume of complaints have gone up 10-fold compared to past years.

Toronto has spent most of the month of February under an extreme cold weather alert with overnight temperatures at or below -15 C — causing the city’s ageing watermains to burst on a nearly daily basis.

Although residents can’t do much on their own with regards to large watermain ruptures, there are steps homeowners can take to prevent water pipes from freezing over.

Prevent water pipes from freezing

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When the temperature drops well below zero, the city recommends leaving a tap open to allow a trickle of water running. This can help vulnerable pipes from freezing.

Also, it is advised to keep your garage doors closed if there are water supply lines inside.

It is recommended to leave your kitchen, bathroom and laundry cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing.

Finally, if you’re away from your home for a long period of time in the winter, you should turn the water off at the main service valve in the basement and open the taps to drain the water from your plumbing lines.

What to do if pipes are frozen

Do not use a torch to thaw pipes as it is a fire hazard and locate your master water shut-off valve.

Water may leak if the pipe begins to thaw and shutting off the valve can limit the amount of flooding until the break is repaired.

It is recommended to turn on a tap in the basement, preferably a cold water faucet, and use a blow dryer pointed at the pipe for one or two hours.

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You can then place a towel around the pipe to keep it warm.

If that does not work, you can make a city service request by dialing 3-1-1.