Calgary experiences increase in frozen water services and broken pipes
The City of Calgary is experiencing a significant influx of calls about water main breaks and frozen services. Due to recent extreme winter temperatures, the frost level in Calgary has moved to a depth of 2.4m (8ft). This can cause some water pipes and service lines to freeze, resulting in water outages for Calgary residents and business owners.
The City has received more than 80 calls related to frozen water services since March 1, 2019. In 2018, The City received a total of 10 calls. City crews are working extended hours to get service back to citizens as soon as possible.
“We are unfortunately dealing with unusual and extreme winter circumstances. We’re doing all we can to maximize our operational capacity, ensure citizens have access to water – and ultimately get services up as quickly as possible, ” said Chris Huston, Manager of Drinking Water Distribution with The City of Calgary.
The increase in call volumes about frozen water services and main breaks has created a backlog of repairs to address. City crews are working hard to alleviate the backlog, aiming to repair services within one week, however, this is highly variable due to the nature of the work. Each incident and each pipe is unique.
“Once crews are on site, the time to thaw can range anywhere from two hours to upwards of 12 hours. We are not always successful on the first try,” adds Huston.
While water wagons are provided to water main break incidents, The City is unable to provide water wagons to individual residences for frozen pipes. In lieu, once The City is notified of an issue, a City employee will reach out to the affected citizen or business as soon as possible to arrange a customer care package. Packages include access to both potable and non-potable water as well as Recreation passes to access shower facilities.
The City’s Frozen Pipe Prevention Program
Every year The City runs a Frozen Pipes Prevention Program to identify homes and business with water services at risk of freezing during the winter months. Letters are sent out to these homes and business when risk of frost is identified. To date, there have been about 900 letters distributed. The City will be calling the remaining 390 customers in the program, with letters to follow.
If you’ve experienced frozen pipes in the past, we are recommending that you keep a small stream of water (pencil size) running in your household. Other tips include:
- Program your dishwasher to run when you’re not home.
- Insulate pipes and areas containing pipes
For more information on the Frozen Pipe Prevention Program visit calgary.ca/frozenpipes.
Tips for Calgarians
Signs of frozen pipes
- 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 to do if you have frozen pipes
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.
The City would like to thank Calgarians for their patience while crews work to get service back to citizens.
For more information on current water outages and main breaks visit, calgary.ca/wateroutages.