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Frozen water lines

Every winter, some Calgarians will experience freezing water pipes, service lines and water outages. Frozen pipes are a common phenomenon and happen in many Canadian municipalities

Why do my lines freeze?

Homes and businesses can be at risk for many different reasons. Customers closest to the river and in older communities tend to be at a greater risk.

Some major factors that cause lines to freeze include ground depth of water service pipes, river water temperature, and frost depth.

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I received a notice regarding frozen pipes. What should I do?

If your water service has been identified as at risk for freezing this winter, you will receive a letter from The City.

To see steps on what actions you should take, visit Frozen Pipes Prevention Program


Protect your water lines from freezing

Look for cold drafts

Check in unheated areas where water supply lines are located. Usual locations include: basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Seal your home from winter

Repair broken windows, check doors and insulate areas that allow cold exterior air to enter.

Insulate pipes

Both hot and cold water pipes should be insulated in cold areas. Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes, like a pipe sleeve, or installing UL-listed heat tape, heat cable or similar materials.

Open interior doors and cabinets

Allow heat from the house to warm unprotected pipes in cold basements and similar areas.

Keep the heat on

Keep your thermostat set for at least 15°C. If away for extended absences, refer to your home insurance policy on how often someone should be checking your home / monitoring for freezing.

Winterize outside faucets and other water features

Make sure the water line to outside faucets, garden hoses, pools or decorative water features is turned off, disconnected, and drained. If these lines freeze, they can burst which may cause water to drain into your home.

Check your hot water tank

If your hot water tank is located in a maintenance room outside of your home, make sure the area is adequately heated.

Regularly run water through pipes

Regularly run water in your pipes through everyday use, or by continuously running a steady pencil-width stream of water. You will be responsible for any increase in water charges unless you receive an official notice from The City of Calgary.


Frozen water lines - frequently asked questions

What are some signs that my pipes are frozen and what action should I take?

Flooding
Frozen water can burst pipes and cause flooding in your home.

No water, or very little water, coming out of your faucet
Check all faucets in your home.

Frost on your internal pipes
A large amount of frost on internal pipes and main shut off valve located in your basement.

What should I do if my water service freezes?

If your house or basement is flooding:

  • Turn off the main shut-off valve.
  • The water main shut-off valve is often located near the water meter at the point where the water line enters your home. This is typically in your basement.
  • If you live in a condo or townhome, call your building owner or manager.
  • Contact 311.

If little or no water is coming out of faucets or you find frost on internal pipes:

How to try to thaw frost on your pipes:

Proceed with caution and at your own risk. We encourage you to contact a professional plumber or seek assistance if you are unsure or require help.

  1. Run your hand along the water line to find a cold spot.
  2. Turn on the closest faucet and thaw from the faucet towards the blockage. This reduces the chance of a pipe burst.
  3. Heat the area with a hair dryer, heating pad, electrical heater, hot water bottles or hot towels.
  4. Be patient, this may take minutes or hours. Do not attempt this in a confined space. Do not use any open flames and do not leave items unattended.
  5. Check other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes.
  6. Contact 311 if water is still not flowing.

What will happen once I report my frozen pipes to 311?

We will contact you and may send a crew to confirm if your service is frozen.

Please note: Response times may be delayed due to high volumes. For faster service, you have the option to contact a plumber at your own expense.

To learn more about next steps and The City of Calgary's process for thawing frozen pipes, visit Water Service Lines in Calgary.

Water service is a shared responsibility. While thawing The City of Calgary's portion of the pipe, we will also attempt to thaw your private property portion of the water pipe to fully restore water to your home.

Before we can take this action, the homeowner will need to complete a Work Authorization Form.

Homeowner and City of Calgary responsibilities for water lines:

In most cases, the property line ends a few metres from the edge of the curb or sidewalk. The diagram above shows that the water service valve is placed very close to the property line, but is not always on The City's side, however The City owns it.

The property owner is responsible for all repair costs to the service on private property (with the exception of the water meter). To learn more about water service line responsibilities, visit Water Service Lines in Calgary.