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Frozen Water Lines

To protect your home from a frozen water line or meter we encourage everyone to prepare their property for winter by:

  • Sealing outside air leaks throughout their home, garage and in the area of their water line with caulk or insulation. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes.
  • Disconnecting, draining and shutting off all outdoor hoses and faucets.
  • Insulating water lines with a pipe sleeve, especially in unheated areas like crawl spaces, basements, attics and storage rooms.
  • Insulating all exposed outside water pipes with foam pipe covers.
  • If your water line is in a cupboard or closet, keep the cupboard/closet door open as this will allow warmer air to circulate around the water line.
  • Keeping the thermostat set to at least 12C (55F). Leave the furnace on, even at night and if you go on vacation.

Reporting a frozen water line

If you have a frozen water line please contact Citizens First at 905.688.5600 or email citizensfirst@stcatharines.ca 

Who's responsible for frozen water line repairs

Repairs to frozen water lines can be the responsibility of the property owner or the City depending on where the line is frozen. The City is responsible for repairs to the water line from the watermain to the property line. Property owners are responsible for repairs to the water line from the property line into their home.

Private and public side of Frozen Water Services

 

Thawing Frozen Water Lines on the Property Owner's Side of the Water Line

If your water line freezes on your side of the property line you can follow these steps to attempt to thaw the line.

Before attempting to thaw the line

  • Make sure everyone in your home knows the location of the main water shut-off valve and how it works. If a pipe bursts you need to shut off the water from the main valve.
  • Before attempting to thaw the water line, turn on a cold water tap in the basement. Do this so you can tell when the water service is restored.

Options for thawing the line

  • Use a blow dryer, aimed at an angle, on the exposed pipe near your water meter. Only do this for between one and two hours.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the pipe.

Important Safety Notes

  • Do NOT use a torch or anything with an open flame to thaw water lines. Not only is it a fire risk, but you could overheat the pipe, causing it to burst or the joints to pull apart.

  • NEVER use electrical appliances in areas of standing water as you could be electrocuted.

What cause water lines to freeze?

Inside the home

Water lines are likely to freeze inside the home due to lack of insulation around the water lines and proximity to exterior walls. For this reason it's important to insulate water lines with a pipe sleeve and keep the thermostat set to at least 12C (55F), even at night and if you go on vacation. If your water line is in a cupboard or closet, keep the cupboard/closet door open to allow warmer air to circulate around the water line.

Outside the home

Water lines can freeze from outside of the home during periods of  sustained cold weather. Sustained cold weather can lead to deeper than normal frost levels, which can in turn cause water lines to freeze.

To protect against frost, most water service pipes are buried 1.5 metres (5 feet) below ground. However, colder ground temperatures mean that underground utilities, like water lines, are more susceptible to freezing.

Illustration courtesy of The City of Guelph



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Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines