ice on a frozen tap outside

Find out how to prevent your water lines from freezing, and what to do if your water line freezes or bursts due to cold weather.

How to prevent your water lines from freezing

  • Insulate exposed water lines in areas such as basement, crawl spaces, attics, garages or outside services. Insulating pipes may include pipe sleeves, UL-listed heat tape, heat cable or similar materials on exposed pipes.
tap cover outdoors
An outdoor tap cover helps prevent frozen water lines
  • Know the location of the main valve inside your house and ensure it works in case you need to quickly turn off the water.
  • Turn off all outside taps and drain lines to prevent them from freezing.
  • If you leave your home for a long time (like to travel), set your thermostat to an adequate temperature and have someone check on your home every few days for signs of water lines freezing.
  • If your water service has a history of freezing, consider leaving a tap trickling/dripping to keep water moving which may prevent freezing.
    • The trickle should be the size of a pencil point.
    • If the building is metered, the owner is responsible for the cost of water use.
  • If frozen underground lines outside the house are an annual problem, consider lowering them in the spring to a point below the frost line.

Consult a plumber for further advice or assistance. Repair costs associated with frozen pipes are the responsibility of the homeowner.

If your water line freezes

If the water line is plugged, trickling, or is no longer flowing:

  • Turn off the main valve inside the house.
  • Locate exposed water service and use a heat source such as a heat lamp or blow dryer. Never attempt to thaw a pipe using an open flame such as a propane torch as this can not only damage the pipe but may start a fire on your property.
  • If there is no exposed service contact a plumber to investigate and resolve the issue.
  • Once the suspect blockage is resolved slowly turn on the house valve and verify water is flowing at the tap.

If your water line bursts

  • Turn off the main valve inside the house and contact a plumber.
  • If the water service ruptures from the street to your home, contact the City at 604-591-4152 to request an emergency turn off.
  • Contact a plumber to make necessary repairs.
  • Once repairs are complete, contact the City to request a turn on.