The Truths About Freezing and Burst Pipes
When water freezes, it expands. That’s why a can of soda explodes if it’s put into a freezer to chill quickly and for -gotten. When water freezes in a pipe, it expands the same way. If it expands enough, the pipe bursts, water escapes and serious damage results.
WHY PIPES BURST?
Surprisingly, ice forming in a pipe does not typically cause a break where the ice blockage occurs. It’s not the radial expansion of ice against the wall of the pipe that causes the break. Rather, following a complete ice blockage in a pipe, continued freezing and expansion inside the pipe causes water pressure to increase downstream between the ice blockage and a closed faucet at the end. It’s this increase in water pressure that leads to pipe failure. Usually the pipe bursts where little or no ice has formed. Upstream from the ice blockage the water can always retreat back towards its source, so there is no pressure build-up to cause a break.
Water has to freeze for ice blockages to occur. Pipes that are adequately protected along their entire length by placement within the building’s insulation, insulation on the pipe itself, or heating, are safe.
MITIGATING THE PROBLEM
Water freezes when heat in the water is transferred to subfreezing air. The best way to keep water in pipes from freezing is to slow or stop this transfer of heat. Ideally, it is best not to expose water pipes to subfreezing temperatures, by placing them only in heated spaces and keeping them out of attics, crawl spaces and vulnerable outside walls. In new construction, proper placement can be designed into the building. In existing houses, a plumber may be able to re route at-risk pipes to protected areas, although this may not be a practical solution. If the latter is the case, vulnerable pipes that are accessible should be fitted with insulation sleeves or wrapping (which slows the heat transfer), the more insulation the better. It is important not to leave gaps that expose the pipe to cold air. Hardware stores and home centers carry the necessary materials, usually in foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves. Better yet, plumbing supply stores and insulation dealers carry pipe sleeves that feature extra thick insulation, as much as 1 or 2 inches thick. The added protection is worth the extra cost.
LETTING THE WATER RUN
Letting a faucet drip during extreme cold weather can prevent a pipe from bursting. It’s not that a small flow of water prevents freezing; this helps, but water can freeze even with a slow flow. Rather, opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes. A dripping faucet wastes some water, so only pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing. The drip can be very slight. Even the slowest drip at normal pressure will provide pressure relief when needed. Where both hot and cold lines serve a spigot, make sure each one contributes to the drip, since both are subjected to freezing. If the dripping stops, leave the faucet(s) open, since a pipe may have frozen and will still need pressure relief.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety have a full article HERE
Holiday Fire Safety Tips
To ensure a Merry Christmas and fire safe Holiday Season for everyone, the Saint John Fire Department suggests the following fire safety guidelines be observed:
Grease and fat fires are a leading cause of home fires in Canada, so be extra careful when doing this kind of cooking. Here's what to do if grease in a pot or pan catches fire:
- Smother the flames by covering the pan with a lid;
- Turn off the heat immediately;
- Use baking soda (flour can be explosive) on shallow grease fires;
- Never turn on the overhead fan, as this could spread the fire;
- Never throw water on a grease fire.
The Christmas Tree
Get a freshly cut tree. It will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard. Try to pick a tree with a strong green colour and noticeable fragrance.
Always test for freshness before buying. A tree with high moisture content is safer. Very few needles should fall when the butt of the tree is tapped on the ground; needles should bend, not break; and the stump should be sticky with resin.
Place the tree in a stand that will hold 2 to 3 litres of water and top it up daily. Make sure it is always immersed in water: If water drops below the trunk, the stem may reseal itself, requiring a fresh cut. Use a tree stand that has widespread legs for better balance.
Do not set your tree up near a heat source such as a radiator, television, fireplace, heating duct or sunny window. It should not block doors.
Never use lighted candles on the tree.
Remove the tree within 10 to 14 days. After that amount of time in a heated building, even the freshest tree can start to dry out.
- Choose decorations that are flame-retardant, non-combustible and non-conductive.If there are young children or pets in your home, avoid very small decorations.
- Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes. This combination is highly combustible.
- Do not use metallic ornaments on the tree. If they make contact with defective wiring they could become a shock hazard.
- Use Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified light strings/sets.
- Use the proper lights for the environment. Indoor light strings/sets should not be used outdoors because they lack weatherproof connections. Some outdoor light strings/sets burn too hot indoors.
- Inspect light strings/set before use. Check for cracked bulbs and for frayed, broken or exposed wires, and discard if faulty.
- Do not use electric light strings/sets on metallic trees. A faulty system could energize the tree and shock or electrocute anyone coming into contact. Illuminate metallic trees with colored floodlights placed at a safe distance from the tree and out of reach.
- Turn off all tree and display lights before retiring for the night or before leaving the house.
- Place candles away from absolutely anything that could catch fire.
- Never leave burning candles unattended.
- Burn them only when a responsible adult is overseeing the flame.
- Put candles in sturdy holders on a stable surface, well away from drafts, curtains, children and pets.
- Snuff them out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
- Never burn gift wrappings, boxes, cartons, or other types of packing in the fireplace. They burn too rapidly and generate far too much heat.
- Don't hang Christmas stockings from the mantel when the fireplace is in use.
- Always use a screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
- Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start a fire.
- Use only seasoned and dried wood.
- Never leave the fire unattended or let it smolder.
- Clean the ashes regularly. Place the ashes in a metal container and store outside away from flammable materials.
- Don't use Christmas trees for firewood.
- There is often a tendency to overload wall outlets during the holiday season. This is an unsafe practice and should be avoided even for short durations.
- Inspect all cords before using. Make sure they are CSA certified. Look for loose connections or frayed or exposed wire. Discard any defective cords. Read the labels and manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper use.
- Insert plugs fully into outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.
- To avoid possible overheating, do not coil or bunch an extension cord which is in use and do not run it under carpets or rugs.
Tips provided by the Alberta Fire Safety Association
Get Your Home Hibernation Ready
Winter is coming – Get your home ready!
The first snowfall may have already come (and hopefully gone) but it’s not too late to prepare your home for Winter.
Living in Alberta, or anywhere else for that matter, where the weather changes quickly, we know how cold and miserable it can get both inside and outside our homes. Preparing for winter while it’s happening is stressful and difficult – it’s a much better idea to be prepared in advance with these tips to get your home and family ready for the cold winter ahead.
Clean out your garage
Like your traditional spring cleaning, consider scheduling a traditional 'fall cleaning' of your garage. Organize the remains of your summer projects and clean and store gardening tools. Like a seasonal turning of your closet, push what you won't need any longer like your lawn-mower, hedge trimmer, rakes and summer toys to the back and bring any winter necessities like: shovels, snow blowers, skis and sleds to the front. Set out salt and gravel containers, and you'll thank yourself when the snow arrives.
Cut the water
Pipes can freeze and rupture in the coldest temperatures, and this can cause external and internal damage to the home. To prevent this problem, turn off the water to all external spigots and then drain the hoses. Homes with an exterior sprinkler system should also hire a professional to blow out your system so it can be closed down for the season.
Prepare your hearth Santa & Fires
Homes with a working chimney tend to rely on it heavily during the colder months, and this makes routine service during the fall essential. A clean chimney not only reduces the risk of a fire hazard, but it also eliminates harmful toxins from lingering in the air.
Your furnace needs an annual checkup
Is your heating system ready to weather the winter? Have a professional check your heating system and ensure it's in good working order before you turn it on. Schedule checks for your furnace and venting system. Don't forget to replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, in case any of your heating systems are overworking.
Pad your pipes
A small frozen pipe can cause big household damage if it bursts, so pad your pipes to prevent floods. Grab some tubular pipe insulation sleeves from your local hardware store and set to task covering exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as a basement, attic, crawl space or cabinet. The pipe sleeves are easy to apply and can be cut to fit. Cover all exposed parts, including bends and joints. Finally, seal the seams with duct tape. With that simple task, you're not only preventing considerable water damage, but also conserving energy.
Water Damage in a Nutshell
A wet and rainy season in Alberta.
Preventing water damage will save you many headaches and is easier than dealing with the cleanup and repairs. We do not like to think about it, but water damage can cause severe damage to your property. It weakens the foundation and the very core that holds your property together.
You have heard about core strength in your body. Well, water damage hits at the core strength of your house, eventually causing severe structural damage. Damp wood invites termites and carpenter ants; plus, it causes mould and mildew.
Here are 3 easy prevention tips
These tips are easy things to do that will give you piece of mind the next time heavy storms hit.
- Ensure Good Drainage
Poor drainage weakens your foundation, causing cracks, uneven settling, and pathways for water to enter your home.
- Clean your gutters routinely. A clogged gutter and drains will send cascades of water down the side of your house, damaging your siding and foundation.
- Ensure your downspouts direct water 5 to 10 feet away from your house.
- Make sure your yard is sloped at least 6 inches over a 10-foot span away from your foundation.
- Check for Water Leaks
Persistent leaks lead to mould, mildew, rot, and even termites and carpenter ants (they like chewing wet wood, since it is soft).
- Check for dark spots under pipes inside sink cabinets, stains on ceilings, toilets that rock, and of course drips.
- At least once a year, inspect your roof. Repair any missing, loose, and or damaged shingles.
- Repair any cracked caulking and check for leaks around flashing.
- Know what to do should water damage occur
Water damage is all about action. Acting fast will save you time and unnecessary costs. Contact SERVPRO experts immediately will help our team to restore rather than replace. What you can do until SERVPRO arrives
- Remove art objects to a safe, dry place & gather loose items from floors.
- Remove coloured rugs and upholstery from wet carpeting to prevent stains.
- Do not turn on ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet, and keep out of rooms where ceilings are sagging. More tips here: http://www.SERVPROcalgarysouthab.com/water-damage-tips
SERVPRO Alberta Emergency Contacts
Calgary: 403.255.0202 | Edmonton: 780.784.7777
What to do Before, During & After Thunderstorms
Calgary Summer Storm
All storms are dangerous and thunderstorms are no exception. Every thunderstorm produces lightning and other hazardous weather conditions, which can include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.
In Western Canada we tend to get a mix of heavy rain and dry thunderstorms, those storms do not produce rain that reaches the ground. As the raindrops fall they are evaporated, with that said the storms lightning can still reach the ground and can start wildfires. Below are great tips from READY to help prepare you for what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm.
What to do before a thunderstorm
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.Postpone outdoor activities.Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
Lightning Risk Reduction When Outdoors
If you are:
In a forest: Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
In an open area: Go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
On open water: Get to land and find shelter immediately.
Facts about ThunderstormsThey may occur singly, in clusters or in lines.Some of the most severe occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.Warm, humid conditions are highly favourable for thunderstorm development.About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe – one that produces hail at least an inch or larger in diameter, has strong winds or produces a tornado.
Facts about LightningLightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 15 km away from any rainfall.“Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away from thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.Your chances of being struck by lightning are estimated to be 1 in 600,000 but could be reduced even further by following safety precautions.Lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
What to do during a thunderstorm
If thunderstorm and lightning are occurring in your area, you should:Use a battery-operated weather radio for updates from local officials.Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric for recharging. Cordless and wireless phones not connected to wall outlets are OK to use.Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches, patios and deks.Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
What to do after a thunderstorm
If lightning strikes you or someone you know, call 9-1-1 for medical assistance as soon as possible. The following are things you should check when you attempt to give aid to a victim of lightning:Breathing or Heartbeat - if the heart or breath has stopped, administer CPR.Pulse - if the victim has a pulse and is breathing, look for other possible injuries. Check for burns where the lightning entered and left the body. Also be alert for nervous system damage, broken bones and loss of hearing and eyesight.
After the storm passes remember to:Never drive through a flooded roadway. Turn around or wait till water subsides. Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.Continue to listen to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.
Alberta Flood Preparation
Some are calling Alberta the “natural disaster capital” of Canada after a study commissioned by the Insurance Bureau of Canada shows that an increase in extreme weather is hitting Alberta insurance companies pretty hard. Not only does this cause a financial burden for families and businesses owners, the livelihood of communities across the province are being affected. Wildfires, floods, hail storms, and other extreme weather conditions continue to sweep in each year causing millions of dollars in damage. Question is, what can we expect moving forward and how can Albertans protect themselves?
Don Forgeron, the President and CEO of Insurance Bureau of Canada made a speech in November of 2015 discussing the dire need of a National Flood program. Forgeron says “A national flood program, we believe, would offer a much more comprehensive and disciplined way to compensate people as a result of damage from flood.” This program would include new sewer and stormwater infrastructures around flood prone areas, create a “culture of flood preparedness” providing a comprehensive list of steps on how to flood proof their properties.
Will this National Flood Program move forward? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, homeowners/property owners should take all the steps necessary to flood proof their homes and properties. Some of which include the following.
- Know if your home is built on Fill, clay, sand, or gravely soil as these materials can help prevent flood damage.
- Do you have an option to build elevated structures (columns or bearing walls) around your properties or more specifically the areas prone to flood damage?
- Observe the kind of materials of the structure of your house and make sure that it is properly sealed.
- Purchasing sandbags in the event of a flood are a great emergency tool to help prevent water from flowing into your home or property.
While all of these measures will help prevent severe damage in the event of a flood, home owners/property owners should still be educated about their insurance policies should they live in an area prone to flooding. Contact you Insurance company and educate yourself what kind of coverage you have and what is available.
As for a new national flood program, we will have to wait on new developments. Brenda Neufled reports that “IBC is proposing a framework for the financial management of flood risk, with shared responsibilities for the insurance industry, all tiers of government and consumers.” This could mean good news for Albertans living in flood plan areas. Keep an ear out as new aid might be available in the near future for those affected by floods or potential flood victims.
Northern Alberta Wildfires – State of Emergency Update
Fort McMurray Alberta Wildfire
Alberta Government Update: Northern Alberta & Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 6th 2:30 p.m.)
Public safety remains the key priority as the wildfire in Fort McMurray continues to burn. Provincial fire crews continue their efforts to reduce the threat to property and infrastructure.
• The Alberta government has declared a provincial state of emergency.
• The mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for:
- Fort McMurray
- Gregoire Lake Estates
- Fort McMurray First Nation
• There are currently six reception centres operating within the province. Details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website.
• All evacuees whether they’re staying with friends and family or at hotels, must register by calling the Red Cross at 1-888-350-6070 or now online for (for families under 7 people) Register here: http://ow.ly/4nv8QH.
• Evacuees who had to leave animals at home call 780-743-7000 Pulse or 780-788-4200 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
There are currently 11 reception centres operating within the province. Additional details are available on the Alberta government emergency updates website:
- Fort McKay – Fort McKay Business Centre
- Lac La Biche – The Bolt Centre – 8702-91 Avenue
- Edmonton – Northlands Grounds, Hall A – 7515-118 Avenue
- St Paul – Centennial Recreation Centre – 4802-53 Street
- Moose Haven- 1, Janvier *expected to close May 5
- Grasslands – Community Hall, Main Street
- Drayton Valley – Omniplex – 5737-45 Avenue
- Smokey Lake Reception Centre
- SAIT - Residence Tower 151 Dr. Carpenter Circle NW *For Suncor Employees and Evacuees in camps
- Fort Chippewan Reception Centre *For First Nation Band Members only
- Town of Athabasca Reception Centre – Athabasca Multiplex, #2 University Drive
Information for affected residents
• Evacuated residents should retain all their receipts for food purchases, accommodations and other related expenses to provide to their insurer for possible reimbursement.
• A boil-water advisory has been issued by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. This advisory also affects camps within the region.
• Area camps that get water from EPCOR, or any provider other than the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, are not affected and do not need to boil water, at this time.
Please Note: Fort McKay residents do not need to boil water prior to using. This boil water advisory excludes Fort McKay.
• Albertans can stay informed on latest developments by downloading the Alberta Emergency Alert and Alberta Wildfire apps.
• Alberta Health Services has issued an Air Quality Advisory for the Fort McMurray area; residents are advised to take appropriate precautions.
• Mental health support is available by calling Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.
Closures and affected services
• All provincial offices in Fort McMurray are closed due to the evacuation.
• Motorists should not travel to Fort McMurray on either Highway 63 or Highway 881. Only essential travel should be undertaken.
• Highway 63 is closed at the Airport Road Junction. Only southbound traffic may pass through the barricade.
• There are traffic controls in place at Highway 63 and 881. Priority is given to emergency responders. Southbound traffic is allowed.
• Traffic controls are in place at Highway 63 and 55 at Atmore Drive. Only traffic to Wandering River is allowed to pass.
• Traffic controls are in place at Highway 851 and 881. Drivers are allowed to travel as far as Conklin.
Donations and volunteers
• The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations via phone, online or through text message. Details can be found at www.redcross.ca.
• At this time, we are not seeking volunteers.
Emergency Fuel Locations
- Approximately 60 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 186);
- Approximately 100 km south of Fort McMurray at Mariana Lakes (Kilometre 130); and
- Approximately 165 km south of Fort McMurray (Kilometre 85)
• If you have personal identification and a means to pay, please visit any community pharmacy to have your prescriptions looked up online through Netcare.
• If you do not have personal identification, please visit an evacuation centre. Medical staff or pharmacists will assess you and will either administer necessary drugs or provide a bridging prescription, with directions to community pharmacies that can assist.
• Resources are also available through the Alberta Health Services website
• Emergency Updates
• Canadian Red Cross
• Alberta Emergency Alert app
• Alberta Wildfire app
• Red Cross Evacuees Online Registration
A great article on how to talk to your children about a natural disaster like the wildfires READ ARTICLE
Clean Up Winter Stains
As the snow melts and freezes your floors attract more dirt, mud, salt and water.
Although many stains are better off to be removed right away, mud stains should be taken care of after waiting until the mud dries. Trying to clean mud right away causes the mess to spread, giving you a bigger and tougher stain to clean in the end. Drying the mud with a fan can speed up the process of removal. Cleanipedia gives us tips on how we can effectively remove mud stains and keep our carpet clean this season.
- Start off by using a vacuum hose to pick up the dry pieces of mud. This will get all of the excess crumbles out of the way to keep from smearing them across the floor. Move the hose gently across the area to ensure that you’re not pressing the dirt deeper into the carpet.
- There will most likely be some pieces of mud still stuck to the fibers of the carpet after using the vacuum. These remnants left over will need to be removed by scraping them out of the carpet using a gentle object, such as a spoon.
- Once you’ve scraped the dirt out, run the vacuum hose back over the area to pick up the remainder of the particles. If there are still particles left over, continue to scrape and vacuum until all dirt remnants have been removed.
- Now that all of the extra mud has been removed from the carpet, there is usually still a stain to be seen unfortunately. There are multiple different methods and removal products to help clean the stain, but even a simple warm water and laundry detergent mixture can do the trick. (Always make sure to try using the solution on a small, unseen portion of carpet first to test it out before applying it to a large area.)
- Once you have your mixture put together, soak the sponge into the solution and gently dab the area until the stain is completely covered and faded. Let the area dry naturally to see the outcome.
Fall Home Maintenance Musts
Clean the Gutters
After leaves have fallen, clean out the gutters and downspouts, flush them with water, inspect joints, and tighten brackets if necessary. Clogged gutters are one of the major causes of ice dams. Replace old or damaged gutters with new ones that have built-in leaf guards.
Be sure to caulk around windows and doorframes to prevent heat from escaping. “Caulking and sealing openings is one of the least expensive maintenance jobs,” says Michael Hydeck, Hydeck Design Build, Inc. “Openings in the structure can cause water to get in and freeze, resulting in cracks and mold buildup,” he says.
Inspect the Roof
Make sure the roof is in good shape. Inspect for missing and loose shingles. "Ice, rain, snow, and wind combined with rapidly changing temperatures and humidity wreak havoc on roofs," says Jay Butch, Director, Contractor programs for CertainTeed Roofing. "Your roof is your first defense in protecting your home. It’s better to proactively deal with repairs in the fall than to discover a leaky roof during a snowstorm."
Ready the Fireplace
Have your heating system checked by a licensed heating contractor. Heating systems will use fuel more efficiently, last longer, and have fewer problems if properly serviced. Get your wood stove and fireplace in working order. Gary Webster, Creative Director of Travis Industries, suggests that you examine your wood stove or fireplace insert’s door gasket for a tight seal.
Sponsoring – The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids
We are proud to sponsor The Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids, on June 21- 22, 2015! Don't miss out on this once in a lifetime tournament that is sure to inspire our community.
In 2007, The Mike Weir Foundation and Children’s Miracle Network set an ambitious goal to raise $10 million for Canadian pediatric healthcare.
Since that time, the Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids has raised more than $4,788,000 to support innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment, and ground-breaking pediatric research at children’s hospitals across the country.
In June 2015, the Mike Weir Miracle Golf Drive for Kids is coming to Calgary! All proceeds from this exciting two-day golf event will benefit the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Learn more about Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation & Mike Weir Foundation and tournament details: www.childrenshospital.ab.ca/MikeWeir