City urges homeowners to protect household pipes from freezing

Over a dozen reports of frozen pipes in Guelph homes following recent cold temperatures

Guelph, ON, February 16, 2016—The City received about a dozen reports of frozen water pipes after temperatures dropped over the Family Day long weekend. All reports were related to internal plumbing issues.

As identified in the City’s approved Frozen Water Pipes Policy, internal plumbing is the responsibility of the homeowner. The City reminds homeowners to take preventive action to protect household pipes, especially with the colder overnight temperatures.

“We’ve had mild winter temperatures up until the weekend so the risk of frozen pipes may have caught people by surprise,” remarked Wayne Galliher, Manager of Technical Services for the City’s Water Services department. “All of the calls we received were related to frozen pipes inside the home which are the homeowners responsibility. Frost levels aren’t deep enough to cause the underground pipes that deliver water to homes to freeze, and we have not yet directed anyone to start running water.”

The City is monitoring a number of indicators including the weather, temperature of water in the supply system, and frost depth. During a water main break repair last week, frost was observed at less than 30 centimetres (one foot) deep. City pipes are typically buried to 1.8 metres (six feet). The monitoring protocol is part of the prevention program outlined in the Frozen Water Pipe Policy, which is aimed at protecting City-owned pipes from freezing. If indicator thresholds are reached, the City will advise people registered in the prevention program to begin running water. Until then, anyone running water without City direction is reminded that they will be charged for all water used.

Take steps to protect household pipes

The City’s website offers tips for helping to protect household pipes at guelph.ca/frozenwater. Tips include insulating pipes, especially where they enter the house and run along outside walls or through crawl spaces, cold cellars and attics, and ensuring warm air can circulate around water pipes.

The City also reminds people to take care if trying to thaw pipes at home, and recommends they call a licensed plumber for assistance. Open flames and torches should never be used to thaw pipes. Space heaters, electric blankets, heating pads and hair dryers should be used with caution and monitored for overheating. Always use caution when applying any heat source near insulation or other flammable materials. More tips can be found on the City’s website.

In November, the City mailed letters to all households and businesses that have a history of frozen pipes and asked these home and property owners to register with the City’s frozen pipe prevention program. Letters were reissued in early February to the properties that had not yet registered. The City strongly encourages property owners who received this letter to sign up for the prevention program.

Extremely low water pressure or tap water that is less than five degrees Celsius can signal a risk of freezing. Anyone who suspects their home or business has frozen pipes should contact the City.

For more information

Wayne Galliher, Manager, Technical Services
Water Services
519-822-1260 extension 2106
wayne.galliher@guelph.ca