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How to prevent your pipes from freezing and what to do if it’s too late

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The extreme cold temperatures that North Bay and the area are experiencing in late December can lead to various problems, including frozen pipes.

With many off to warmer locales to escape the deep freeze, here are some tips for safeguarding your water pipes against freezing while you are away, or for enduring the harsh wind chills at home:

  • Locate your water shut-off valve in your home, mark it with an identifiable tag, and make sure all residents know where it is.
  • The valve will be located where the water line enters your home, and this could be located in a crawl space, basement or utility closet.
  • Pipes located in unheated areas, especially in the basement, can be protected with heat tape or insulation.
  • Shut off the indoor valve for outside faucets, if you have one, and drain water from the pipes. Drain garden hoses and store them and turn off your irrigation system.
  • Leave your thermostat set at 13C to prevent freezing.
  • Have someone check your home regularly.

If your pipes freeze, shut off the valve immediately. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes until the water is turned off. This can be helpful when the cold hits as City crews can get backlogged with service calls and it may take several days for repairs.

Allowing a small trickle of water to run overnight to keep pipes from freezing is an option and the expense of running water is typically much less than the repair bill for pipes that have burst.

The City of North Bay has a policy on this:

  • Public Works staff will contact you in the late fall early winter and will investigate your property records, in some cases a site inspection may also be required
  • If you are deemed eligible you be will be asked to enter into a water service agreement which will allow you to run your water – a supervisor will have you sign a form for that winter
  • Your water bill will be calculated using a 3 month average of unadjusted bills
  • If you are not granted permission to run your water, you will be responsible for the water bill if you choose to run it anyway.
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