Frozen Pipes

During extremely cold winter weather, we offer these helpful hints on how to reduce the risk of frozen water pipes.

Most water services are deeply buried for protection against frost.  Extremely cold temperatures or fluctuations between warm and cold temperatures may sometimes push frost to a depth that will freeze water services.

How can I reduce the risk of frozen water pipes?

  • When the temperature is below freezing, you can leave a cold water tap running at a steady stream of about 6 mm or ¼ inch (approximate thickness of a drinking straw).
  • Leave the cupboard doors under your kitchen and bathroom sinks open if piping is located next to exterior walls. Please take care to remove household cleaners and other items that could harm children or pets while the cupboard doors are open.
  • Do not turn your furnace below 13 degrees C (55° F) at night or when the house is vacant.
  • Shut off and drain pipes leading to outside faucets.
  • Wrap foam pipe insulation around pipes most susceptible to freezing (e.g. near outside walls, crawl spaces, attics).
  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage, especially in areas where pipes are located.
  • If you are away, have someone check your home regularly.

Precautions and steps to take to thaw water pipes in your home


  • Do not use a torch with an open flame to thaw pipes, as this is a fire hazard.
  • Determine where your water shut-off valve is in your house and learn how to use it.  For most homes the shut-off valve is located near the water meter at the point where the water line comes into your home, usually in your basement.  The frozen pipe may be broken and when the water in it thaws, it will leak.  You will need to shut off the water in your house until the pipe is repaired.

Steps to thaw a frozen pipe

  • Turn on a tap in the basement, preferably the cold water faucet in the laundry room.
  • Use a blow dryer to warm the suspected frozen pipe for one or two hours. Check blow dryer regularly to ensure it does not overheat.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the suspected frozen pipe.
  • Depending on the outside temperature and the extent of freezing within the pipe, the thawing process could take between one and six hours.

To report frozen pipes contact the Township of Guelph/Eramosa at 519-856-9596 ext. 122.  If you are calling after hours, your message will be forwarded to the after hour extended communications service.