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Caution: Freezing Pipe Potential.

February 9 2021

This cold snap has the potential to produced conditions that may put some vulnerable water service lines between the water mains and their respective residences and businesses at risk of freezing. The Town of Cardston is cautioning people who know their homes are susceptible to freezing water lines to consider taking any necessary precautions such as letting a stream of water trickle from one of their taps.

Multiple factors will determine whether your water service is at risk of freezing, these include:

  • Frequency of water use

  • location, depth and length of service line

  • ground cover above service line

If you use your water frequently then you have little cause for concern, as warm water from the main frequently flushing through you pipes is sufficient to keep the pipe and surrounding ground from freezing. If you live in an older home however, or if you live alone and don’t use the water as frequently, then your pipes could be at risk of freezing during times of low usage, particularly at night.

Every residence and business in Town, with few exceptions, has a dedicated service line that connects to the water main deep in the street. These lines as a rule are expected to be buried well below the frost depth for the area in order to prevent freezing. There are however factors that can drive frost deeper than the normal frost depth. The recent late cold snap is one of those factors. Having a driveway above your service line is another factor, as the snow-cleared concrete can act as a conductor for cold and drive the frost deeper. Warming temperatures will also produce a phenomenon that drives frost deeper in the ground. As the surface temperature increases, the warmer temperatures drive the frost deeper as it thaws from top to bottom. Some older homes, homes without basements, and some homes with long service runs may have shallower pipes which are at greater risk of being frozen.

How to prevent frozen water lines:

The simplest solution to prevent frozen water lines is to keep water flowing through them. A slow trickle is all that is needed to prevent Ice from forming. If you suspect your pipes of being at risk, or if you’ve noticed a sudden decrease in pressure after of period of no use, then it may be advisable to let one of your faucets trickle during the night. The low cost of water (about $1.00 per 1,000 litres) will be significantly less than the cost of a plumber to thaw your pipes.

What to do if you suspect your service line is frozen:

If you find yourself without water, you must first contact a plumber who is equipped to thaw your service line. Methods used to thaw water pipes include sending a hose down the pipe that shoots hot water or steam in order to melt the blockage and allow water to start flowing again. Property owners are responsible for all waterpipes on their property. If the plumber determines the ice blockage extends beyond your property line, they must contact the Town before proceeding with the work or you will be liable for all costs. The Town will not reimburse any work done without prior approval.

For more advice on how to prevent or treat frozen water pipes, contact a certified plumber. Local plumbers are listed in our business directory. 

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