Frozen water pipes

Please call us at 519-822-1260 extension 5628 if you have unusually low water pressure, or unusually cold water (less than 5° Celsius)

Do not leave your water running unless the City asks you to. Customers running water without direction from the City will be responsible for all charges.

If your pipes are frozen

Try running different cold water taps throughout your home or business.

If all water service has stopped, the problem is likely on City property and you should contact us.

We may offer advice over the phone or visit your property to find the problem and recommend a solution. If you are a tenant, please contact your landlord as well.

If any of the taps have running water, the problem is likely on your property and you should call a plumber.

Thawing frozen pipes on your property

The City recommends calling a licenced plumber for help with frozen pipes on your property. If you want to try to thaw household pipes yourself, please follow these safety precautions:

Do not use a torch with an open flame to thaw pipes, as this is a fire hazard.

Find your master water shut-off valve (usually in the basement where the water service pipe enters your home). If the frozen pipe is cracked or broken, you will need to shut off the water in your house until the pipe is repaired.

Steps to thaw a frozen pipe

  • Turn on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room.
  • Use a blow dryer, electric blanket or heating pad to warm the suspected frozen pipe for one or two hours. Check blow dryer regularly to ensure it does not overheat.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the suspected frozen pipe.
  • You may also use a portable heater with caution, especially around flammable materials.
  • Always use caution when applying any heat source near insulation or other flammable materials.
  • Depending on the outside temperature and the extent of freezing within the pipe, the thawing process could take between one and six hours.
  • If/when the pipe thaws, water should start flowing to the tap you turned on in the basement.

If these steps do not resolve the problem, contact a licensed plumber.

After thawing the pipe

Keep the pipes warm. If the pipe has frozen already, it’s likely to freeze again. Insulate the pipe, ensure the area is heated.

Watch for leaks. You own all the pipes from the beginning of your property line into and throughout your home or business. If any pipes are leaking, you are responsible for repairs and should call a professional plumber. For information about potential damages or claims related frozen and/or thawing pipes please contact your insurance provider.

If the water meter is leaking, please contact us. We may need to repair or replace the meter which may result in charges for service or replacement.

Temporary water service for customers with frozen pipes

How to arrange for temporary water service

  1. Report your frozen pipes to the City of Guelph.
  2. Find a neighbour with running water (beside or behind your property, not across the road).
  3. Ask them for permission to connect to their water supply.
  4. Call us to schedule your connection. Both you and your neighbour must be home and provide written permission to connect the temporary water service.

The City uses food­-grade PVC hoses for temporary water services. We typically connect the hose to a neighbour’s outdoor tap and run the hose to your property. The hose provides temporary running water until a frozen pipe thaws.

We test the water to see if it is suitable for cooking and drinking. If it is not, we will make a different source of water available for drinking and cooking.

For health and safety reasons, we do not encourage you to install your own temporary water service—you will be responsible for any water charges.

If the City connects you to a temporary water service from a neighbour, you must leave one tap running a pencil–width stream at all times to keep the temporary service from freezing.

Water charges for temporary water service

People who donate their water service to connect temporary water lines will receive a credit on their water bill. They will not be charged for the extra water used.

If pipes freeze on a private property, the owner may be charged to cover the cost of restoring water service.

In the spring

Frost retreats slowly, usually top down, so frozen pipes may not thaw until well after spring has arrived.

When you are confident the frost has left the ground, and temperatures are above freezing, carefully open your master shutoff valve. Faucet-style valves are particularly prone to damage and leaking, so please be prepared to repair or replace the valve.

If you are able to run water opening your shutoff valve, call us for further instructions.

Check for leaks. Turn off all your taps, and check your water meter. If you notice leaks or drips, close the shutoff valve and call a plumber for assistance.

Properties with history of frozen pipes

We maintain a record of all properties with a history of frozen pipes and work with property owners to prevent them.

If you have had frozen pipes before, the City may contact you with instructions to prevent your pipes from freezing again. Usually we ask properties with a history of frozen pipes to run a small amount of water during winter months. Please contact us to discuss whether we can lower your service line to prevent freezing permanently.

How to prevent pipes from freezing

Use foam pipe insulation to protect pipes near outside walls, in crawl spaces or cold cellars.

Open kitchen, bathroom or laundry cupboard doors to let warm air reach your plumbing. Please remove household cleaners and other items that could harm children or pets while cupboard doors are open.

Seal air leaks in your home and garage, especially in areas where pipes run.

If there are water supply lines in the garage keep outside garage doors closed.

Insulate all outdoor water pipes with specially designed outdoor foam pipe covers available at building supply or home improvement stores.

Shut off and drain pipes leading to outside faucets.

If you’re going away, talk to your insurance company about what you can do to protect your home from frozen pipes and leaks.

Watch the Winterizing Your Pipes video from Peel Region to see these steps in action.

City of Guelph Frozen Water Pipe Policy: November 2015

For more information

Water Services
[email protected]