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How to Prevent Winter Basement Flooding from Frozen Pipes

January and February are the toughest months for people who live in snowy climates. Winter brings out its worst storms, coldest temperatures, and harshest conditions during these months, and homeowners need to be extra careful to make sure they do not end up with a flooded basement from frozen pipes. It may seem strange that frozen pipes could lead to a basement flood, so here are some important facts to know, and how you can prevent and remedy this situation if it happens to you.

How Do Frozen Pipes Lead to Basement Flooding?

Understanding what happens when pipes freeze and learning how to minimize the chances of them rupturing are essential to preventing a flooded basement. During the winter months, water pushes along the length of the pipe as it freezes from cold temperatures. If there is room for water to move through the pipe, the pressure alone will not fracture the pipe. But when the temperatures plummet below zero, the pipes can freeze and crack, leaking water into your home. Even a tiny crack can leak gallons of water into your home over time, so by being proactive you can prevent damage and the need for basement water removal.
flooded basement and frozen pipe


Tips to Prevent Basement Flooding from Frozen Pipes This Winter

There are many ways that you can prevent basement flooding each winter. Even in the middle of winter, there are things you can do to safeguard your home. Here is a thorough list of tips that you can follow to prevent basement flooding this winter:

  • Make sure that all faucets in your home or business are slightly opened/on when temperatures are expected to plunge below freezing for several hours. While you are doing this, keep the sink cabinets open during extreme cold to allow for heated air to reach the plumbing.
  • Conduct research on your area by talking to neighbours. Ask them if they have had frozen pipes and flooded basement problems. Ask if they generally experience flooding even during the spring from groundwater pressure or spring runoff. You can also look at historic insurance claims maps or historic weather maps of your area. With this information, you will be better prepared to prevent frozen pipes and flooded basement water damage.
  • By maintaining your plumbing systems, you will also be preventing water damage. Make sure that all the features and structures of your property are in good condition before winter, so they function properly during the colder months. Some ways you can maintain your system are to clean gutters and ensure that downspouts deposit water far away from structures, especially if you have a basement. You can also check your sump pump for proper automatic operation.
  • Another way you can prevent pipes from freezing and bursting is to keep your home’s thermostat higher than 13 degrees Celsius. If the temperature in your home drops below this, you could be dealing with frozen pipes, leading to leaks and floods.
  • Turn off and drain your water system if you are travelling during the winter, unless you want to return to a flooded basement.
  • Open taps throughout your home or office to allow water to drip, and to keep the pipes from freezing.
  • Winterize and insulate water pipes to reduce the chances of water damage and frozen, burst pipes in your home.
  • Seal and caulk air and water leaks to prevent the pipes from bursting.
  • Add insulation to your attic, basement, or crawlspace to keep the temperature inside the home warmer.
  • Know the location of the shut off valve for your water supply in your home, so that if a pipe does burst, you can quickly turn off the water flow to minimize damage.
  • Use heat tape and wrap it around the exposed pipes in the attic, outside walls, under the home, and in the basement. Be careful to read the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid the risk of fire.
  • Make sure that your sprinkler systems are winterized.
  • Install drain tile around the perimeter of your home, both inside and outside. Drain tile is designed to help drain water away from the foundation of your home, and if you install it in your basement, it can collect water and direct it to a sump pump.
  • Shovel away any snow from around your home to prevent basement flooding when it starts to melt.
  • Check your basement walls to make sure they are safe from outside sources of water.
  • Disconnect your garden hose and other outside connections.
  • Notify your local bylaw enforcement of vacant homes in your neighbourhood to prevent water damage.

Flooded Basement Cleanup

If you need help with cleanup for a flooded basement in the GTA, or if you want advice on how you can get proactive and safeguard your home, Flood Services Canada can help you. Burst pipes inside your house can be dangerous to your property and the health of your family, so act immediately.

No one wants to find themselves displaced during a flood situation; however, the reality is sometimes you may need to evacuate your home for the time being. If that’s the case and you find yourself in need of temporary or short-term accommodations due to a basement flood, you can opt for a fully furnished rental from a reputable company like MAC Furnished Residences Inc. They’ll help you find a conveniently located rental in Toronto and the GTA that meets your needs while Flood Services Canada attends to your basement cleanup.

The professionals at Flood Services Canada can also save you from future damage to your home caused by damage you cannot see, and we can help you settle with your insurance company. We deploy our quick-response teams across Toronto, Oakville, Ajax, Whitby, Georgina, Barrie, Mississauga, and Lakeshore to help homeowners in a tight situation. Contact us at (416) 302-2107 to learn more about our water damage cleanup services, or use our emergency hotline at (416) 999-3930 to get our rapid-response teams deployed to your location.

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Chad Vanvari

Chad Vanvari has over 20 years of experience as a cleaning & restoration professional. He started out in Montreal, establishing a commercial carpet cleaning company in the early 1990’s. By 2001, Chad had relocated to Toronto and now had extensive knowledge and experience in responding to fire/water related emergencies. He has been instrumental in the cleanup of several catastrophic floods. Currently, Chad is the president and owner of Flood Services Canada, a 24/7 emergency service restoration company.