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Frozen Pipes

In the winter, a water outage could be caused by a frozen water pipe inside your home or from the City’s water main to the private home (connection).

If your water does not turn on, it may be an issue with the private portion of your water connection.  If there is an issue on the City portion, we will come out and set up a temporary water connection. If it's not possible to set up a temporary water connection we will use specialized equipment to defrost the line from your home. To help prevent frozen pipes at your home, we recommend making sure the pipes are well-insulated, including the portion at the outside walls of your home.

When there is extended extreme cold, ground frost can penetrate deep and cause shifting. This can lead to water main breaks.

How to tell if you have frozen pipes

In the middle of winter, a lack of water from taps in your home could mean frozen water lines.   
To confirm if you have frozen water lines try the following steps:

  • Check all cold-water taps throughout your home.  If you have no water at one tap, but water flows freely at other taps, there may be a frozen water line/pipe in your home that's blocking the flow of water to the tap in question.
  • Try and find the frozen pipe.  Likely locations for frozen pipes include colder places inside the home - against exterior walls and where the water service pipe enters the home through the foundation wall.  Look in your basement where water meter or pipes come up from the basement floor. 
  • If you can't find the frozen pipe inside your home, call our Customer Service Centre at 306-975-2476 as the frozen section may be outside your home.  We'll send someone over the check it out.

What to do when you have frozen pipes 

Once you’ve determined you have frozen water lines, assess the area and see if there is any water on the floor or leaking from the pipe.  If there is water – call a plumber!  Don’t try to thaw the pipes, as this could lead to possible electrical shock and (once the pipes thaw) add to the leaking of unwanted water inside your home.

If there is not water in the area, there are a few things you can do to try and thaw the pipes:

  • Try warming the area by opening doors to increase the flow of warm air;  use appliances like hair dryers or space heaters to warm things up or put an electric heating pad or warm cloth directly on the frozen pipe.  Give these methods time to work – depending on how cold it is, frozen pipes can take up to 6 hours to thaw.
  • Remember to keep the frozen tap on.  This way you’ll know the pipe has thawed out as the water will start flowing again (make sure water can easily drain from the sink to prevent overflows).
  • If heating the area is not successful, call our Customer Service Centre at 306-975-2476 and we will send someone to investigate.

Danger

  • Do not use kerosene or propane heater or open flame device (ex: blow torch, candle, butane lighter) to thaw frozen pipes.
  • Do not leave electrical devices unattended.
  • If the pipe or meter is leaking, or if there is water present on the floor, do not use space heaters, heat guns, hair dryers, heating pads or any other electrical appliances to thaw frozen pipes. Leaking water could cause an electrical shock.

How you can prevent frozen water pipes inside
  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around the water pipes that are most susceptible to freezing.  This includes pipes along foundation walls, in crawl spaces and in cold cellars.
  • Keep inside doors and cabinet doors open.  Keeping these doors open allows warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Run a pencil-thin stream of water to make sure some movement of water in the water and sewer service pipes.  NOTE:  you will be charged for the water used if you choose this step.
    • Run cold water from the lowest point in the house, usually a laundry room sink or tub.
    • Make sure drains are kept clear of debris to prevent overflowing or flooding.
    • An estimate to run one litre per minute total flow is estimated at $2.75 daily.
  • If leaving for longer than a 24-hour period, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and open the taps to drain the water from your plumbing lines. Have someone check your home daily to make sure the heat is working.

How you can prevent a frozen water connection
  • In the fall, shut off and drain pipes leading to outside faucets. 
  • Keep the warm air in by sealing air leaks in your home and garage, especially in areas where pipes run.
  • Pile snow on your service connection and near your foundation where the water pipe enters your home.  NOTE:  remember to remove the snow from around your foundation when temperatures start to warm up.  Melting snow against a foundation wall can lead to meltwater draining into your basement.