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Frozen water pipes

Should I be running my water to prevent a frozen pipe?
Unless the City advises you to run your water to prevent the water pipe from freezing, you should not be running your water continuously.


Cold weather impact on water pipes

View up-to-date information of the number of frozen pipes, the average frost depth, and our average thawing response time.

Costs of thawing services and running water

When we thaw a frozen pipe, there may be a cost. View these costs and what we recommend after we thaw a pipe.

Preventing frozen water pipes

There are steps you can take to weatherproof your basement or crawlspace to prevent water pipes from freezing within your home.

Determining the risk of frozen water pipes

Every winter we closely monitor a number of conditions that contribute to frozen water pipes (e.g., depth of frost). We correlate frost depth with properties which had frozen pipes in past winters.

We cannot predict how many frozen pipes we may see this winter as this is weather dependent.

If we determine that there is a high number of water pipes freezing, we will notify properties which are at risk of having frozen pipes:

  • to run their water as a preventative measure,
  • the flow of the water required to prevent the pipe from freezing,
  • when and how to send water meter readings to our Utility Billing Centre.

Do not run your water as a preventative measure unless you’ve been notified by the City. Otherwise, you would be billed for the full amount of the water and sewer charges.

Properties that are at risk of freezing will be evaluated any time water main renewals are planned.

Steps taken to prevent frozen water pipes

We have taken steps to prepare for another event of an increased number of frozen pipes.

  • In 2015, we lowered 33 water service pipes that had frozen over a couple years. The lower depth should prevent these pipes from freezing again.
  • We have an increased inventory of thawing equipment and an increased number of staff trained to operate thawing equipment.
  • We have installed over 500 groundstraps (a copper wire which is a requirement for thawing some pipes) beginning in the winter of 2013-14. These will allow us to quickly thaw these properties which had frozen pipes. These groundstraps will remain in the ground for future years.
  • We will continue to solicit demonstrations to evaluate contractors who can thaw pipes. We found there were no contractors who could consistently thaw pipes on the City’s side of the pipe, despite multiple demonstration attempts.
  • We will continue to meet with contractors and/or suppliers who feel they have potential solutions and/or who could provide assistance.
Billing related to frozen pipes

The City will be adjusting customers’ utility bills for the water used to prevent frozen water pipes. Please see the sections below for the information that applies to your situation.

Thawing equipment

We have thawing equipment that we use to thaw frozen pipes. We can thaw by using electricity on the frozen pipe or by injecting hot water into the frozen pipe.

Last updated: January 5, 2016