City Of Abbotsford  
Clayburn Village

Frozen Water Lines

Why Do My Lines Freeze?

The main reason for frozen lines is due to the depth of the water service pipe. Shallow depth pipes are most often found in older neighbourhoods. Insufficient insulation near and around internal pipes can also cause frozen pipes.

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How Can I Tell if my Pipes are Frozen?

The signs of frozen pipes are:

  • No water or very little water coming out of the faucet. Check all faucets in your home.
  • Frost on your internal pipes, including on your main shut-off valve.
  • Flooding – frozen water can cause pipes to burst and cause flooding inside your home

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What Should I Do If My Water Service Freezes?

Partial water service indicates that a pipe is frozen somewhere in the house. A complete lack of water service can be the result of a frozen water meter or a frozen pipe leading from the water main in the street to the house, call the City for assistance if this is the case. A meter or water pipe that feels extremely cold is most likely frozen. It's important to clear frozen blockages as soon as possible to minimize the danger of pipes bursting in some inaccessible spot and causing damage inside your house. 

  • If your house or basement is flooding, turn off the main shut-off valve inside your home. 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.
  • Once you have checked all the items listed above, including contacting a plumber,  but continue to have no water please call the City. 
  • If you have no water at any tap/location in your home, please contact the City for further assistance. 

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How Do I Thaw a Frozen Pipe? 

  • You can try the steps outlined below to help thaw frozen pipes. In most instances, it is best to call a licensed plumber.
  • Moving water prevents ice from forming all the way through the pipe and helps maintain the flow of non-frozen water. Keep a trickle of water running from the highest faucet in your house. The trickle should be size of a pencil point. You will be billed for the water used,  but this procedure may help prevent more costly repairs resulting from broken pipes. Repair costs associated with frozen pipes are the responsibility of the homeowner. 
  • If a water pipe has frozen and burst, turn off the water at the main shut-off valve in the house. Open a nearby faucet slightly so the pipe can drain as it thaws
  • Thaw pipes by applying hot air from a hair dryer, electric heater or by using a heating pad. Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water because you could be electrocuted. Never use hot water or a blowtorch on a frozen pipe or water meter.
  • Frozen underground pipes running into the house may require the application of electric current or other thawing devices. A licensed plumber must address this problem. If frozen underground lines outside the house are an annual problem, consider lowering them in the spring to a point below the frost line.
  • 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.

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How Can I  Prevent Frozen Pipes?

  • Look for cold draughts
  • Check around your home for areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas and take measures to prevent the flow of cold air in these areas.
  • Common locations include: the basement, crawl spaces, attics, garages and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
  • A hot water supply line can freeze just like a cold water supply line if water is not running through the pipe and the water temperatures becomes cold. Both hot and cold water pipes in these drafty areas should be insulated.
  • Insulate pipes
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a pipe sleeve or installing UL-listed heat tape, heat cable or similar materials on exposed pipes.
  • Find your water shut-off valve
  • Every homeowner should know where the main water shut-off valve is in their house and learn how to use it.
  • For most homes the water main shut-off valve is located at the point where the water line comes into your home, which usually in your basement.
  • If you live in a condo or townhome, call your management company or condo corporation to find out where the shut off value is for your unit. 
  • Protect garage pipes
  • If you have plumbing in your garage, keep your garage door closed when it's very cold. Pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated.
  • Seal your home from winter
  • Stop the drafts! Repair broken windows, check your doors and insulate areas that allow cold exterior air to enter.
  • Be prepared when travelling
  • If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time in the winter, set your thermostat at 15 degrees or higher, and have someone check your house every second day and have them check for signs of freezing.
  • Winterize outside faucets
  • Make sure the water line to outside faucets (such as your garden hose) is turned off, aa your hoses are disconnected, and the line is drained

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