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Frozen Pipes Prevention Program

For questions and answers about the current frozen line issues in March 2019, please see Frozen Water Lines Issues - March 2019.

See the latest Frozen Pipes Prevention Program e-mail - March 29, 2019 update.

Our winter climate can cause some water pipes and service lines to freeze, resulting in water outages for Calgary residents and business owners.

The Frozen Pipes Prevention Program monitors frost levels, and identifies homes and businesses with water services at risk of freezing during winter months.

Letters are sent to these customers between December 1 and March 31 each year making them aware of the program, and the steps to take to avoid frozen water lines.

Reminders for program participants - March 2019

Even when the weather warms during the spring or a Chinook you should continue to run your water.

Turning your faucet off can result in frozen pipes. The City will send you a letter when it is time to turn your running water off.

If you are going away for an extended period of time, instruct whoever is checking your house to look out for the letter and follow its instructions.

I have received a letter - what should I do?

Often, frozen water lines and pipes can be avoided with simple, proactive steps. The letter will include instructions asking you to do the following:

Step One: Turn the tap on and leave it running for 24 hours a day with water flowing at about the width of a pencil (for residential properties), or as requested (for commercial properties).
Step Two: A “Turned On” Tag will accompany the letter to help serve as a visual reminder and help you prevent the tap from being turned off unintentionally.
Step Three: Do not turn off your tap until you receive a follow-up letter from The City. It is critical to wait for the follow-up letter as ground temperatures can remain below freezing even if above-ground temperatures warm up.

How to tell if your pipes are frozen

The signs of frozen pipes are:

  • No water or very little water coming out of the faucet – you may have a lack of running water coming out of your faucets. Check all faucets in the home.
  • Frost on your internal pipes – if you have a large amount of frost on your main shut off valve or internal pipes.
  • Flooding – frozen water can cause pipes to burst and cause flooding within the home.

What should I do if my water service freezes?

If your house or basement is flooding, turn off the main shut-off valve and call 311. If you believe your pipes have frozen, turn off water at the main shut-off valve and call a plumber.

Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may also freeze. When in doubt, always call a plumber.

How are water services billed during the program?

Residential Properties:
You will be charged at a 7 m3 per month flat usage amount for water and wastewater for the period of time that you will be asked to keep a tap running.

Commercial Properties:
Your bill will be credited based on the service size. The credit amount will be communicated to you at the on the letter sent to you for activation..

Program questions and answers

Has the letter to start/stop running my tap been sent?

Please call 311 to check whether your home has been activated.

I didn’t get a letter, but my neighbour did. Why?

Using historical data and installation information, The City identifies the water pipes that are vulnerable to freezing.

Your neighbour’s property has been assessed and is vulnerable to freezing whereas your service is not. If your water service pipe freezes, visit Frozen Water Lines.

How does The City identify homes and businesses for the program?

The City uses historical data and installation information to identify homes and businesses with water services that are at risk of freezing during the winter months.

The frost levels are monitored throughout the winter months and houses and businesses are activated as the depth of frost moves deeper into the ground.

How do I get off the program?

There are many reasons why your service could be vulnerable to freezing.

For more information on preventing frozen pipes and being removed from the program, visit Frozen Water Lines.

If you would like to explore more options, please call 311 and a City representative will provide more information.

Why this program is necessary?

Water outages caused by frozen service lines can divert City resources away from other critical emergency repairs.

It is important to keep the water running as frozen service lines can damage City and private water pipes, damage homes and businesses, and can result in customers being without water for many days.

The Frozen Pipes Prevention Program helps The City, home occupants and business owners to prevent frozen water services at a minimal cost and minimal disruption.

Why is it important to keep your water running?

During winter conditions, the ground becomes frozen and the depth of frozen ground varies depending on the winter conditions and soil type.

If the ground surrounding the water service pipe becomes frozen the water in the pipe could freeze blocking all water flow through the pipe.

Moving water prevents ice from forming all the way through the pipe and helps maintain the flow of non-frozen water.

When can I turn my running water off?

The City will send you a letter when it is time to turn your running water off. Do not turn your faucet off prior to receiving this letter, even if the weather warms during the spring or a Chinook. Doing so may result in frozen pipes.