Port Colborne
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Frozen Water Services Information

Posted by Jamie Lee on Friday, February 27th, 2015

Jim Huppunen / Manager of Engineering

Frozen Water

Vale Centre Shower Availability

‎The City has been experiencing issues with the cold weather freezing water services to resident’s homes. The City has provided 2 Dressing Rooms (11 & 12) at the Vale Health & Wellness Centre for residents with frozen water services to shower.  One room has been designated male and the other room as female. Signs have been posted for residents, indicating directions to contact staff for access to the rooms.

Thawing frozen pipes internal to the home

You can try to thaw the pipe yourself or call a plumber.

Do it yourself

1.    Step one – Find the frozen pipe.

·         Often the frozen area of the pipe will be frosted or have ice on it. If the pipe is frozen solid, it may have a slight bulge or a crack.

·         If you have a poorly insulated crawlspace, the frozen pipe may be in this area.

·         If none of the taps work, the problem may be:

o   at the water meter or where your water service enters your home through the foundation, or

o   in the pipe between the water main and the meter (if this is the case, Call the City)


2.    Step two – Thaw the pipe.

·         Move quickly – thaw frozen pipes as soon as possible.

·         Open the tap. Start by warming the pipe as close to the tap as possible, working toward the coldest section of the pipe. Wrap warm (not hot or boiling) towels or cloths around the pipe. The key to safely thawing frozen pipes is to apply slow, even heat.

·         Keep the towels warm and keep the water tap turned on until full water pressure is restored.

·         If the pipe leaks when it is thawed, turn off the master water valve and contact a licensed plumber to repair the leak.


·         Do not use a propane heater or open flame device (e.g., blow torch, candle, butane lighter) to thaw the pipe.

·         Do not use space heaters, heat guns, hair dryers, heating pads or any other electrical appliances to thaw frozen pipes. Leaking water could cause an electrical shock.


Frozen Water Service

Excerpt from City Frozen Water Service Policy:

If the problem is found to be in the Municipal Water Work, the property owner will be instructed to submit the invoice of the private licensed plumber or plumbing contractor to the City of Port Colborne 66 Charlotte St., Attention: Director, Engineering and Operations.

I think my water service is frozen—what do I do?

·         The first step is to try to determine if it is your indoor plumbing that has frozen. Try running different cold water taps throughout your home. If more than one has running water while others don’t, your issue is likely internal. You should call a plumber or review the question, What can I do if my household pipes freeze?


·         If you find that all water service to your home has stopped, or you aren’t sure where the problem is, contact the City of Port Colborne 905-835-5079


·         The City will work with you to determine where the cause of the frozen service is located, including, where necessary, conducting an on-site investigation. Please note that due to the high volume of calls, on-site investigations may be delayed. We request your patience as we respond to this emerging issue.


·         If you are a tenant, your landlord must contact the City about issues with water service. Please contact your landlord if you are having problems with frozen water service.

What can I do to protect myself from a frozen water service?

Operational Services is here to help. Not every household is at risk. Please call us if:

·         you have a history of frozen water service


·         you are experiencing unusually low water pressure


·         you have unusually cold water (less than 5° C) running from your tap


·         Please do not run water tap continuously unless you have a history of frozen household pipes or frozen water service, or the City has requested that you do so. If you run water without an identified need, you will incur unnecessary charges.


Who is responsible for water service lines?

Who pays for the work to restore or provide temporary water service?

It is the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and/or replace the portion of the water service located within the building, and between the building and the property line. The City of Port Colborne is responsible for the service located between the property line and the watermain.

If the freezing occurs on the private side of the property line, the City will charge the homeowner for the costs to restore water service. The City of Port Colborne maintains a record of service calls to residences and commercial properties with frozen water lines for future reference.

Why has my water service frozen?

Most water services in the City of Port Colborne are deeply buried for protection against frost. Some water service lines, however, are historically installed at a shallow depth by today’s standards. Extremely cold temperatures, or fluctuations between warm and cold temperatures, can sometimes push frost to a depth that will freeze water services. This winter has created the kind of conditions that cause water service lines to freeze.  Extreme cold temperatures can also cause internal freezing where service would not normally be interrupted.

Water temperature

With the water already being this cold as it enters our water distribution system, it takes very little exposure to colder temperatures for it to freeze. That is why it is important to make sure your water service lines are not exposed to colder air during winter months.

Frost depth

This is the depth to which the ground is frozen. In Port Colborne, frost depth usually does not reach the level of our buried water infrastructure. However, with extremely cold conditions, frost may reach these levels towards the end of winter, usually in late February or early March.

View the complete City of Port Colborne Frozen Water Service Policy here


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