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Greater Sudbury

Frequently Asked Questions About Frozen Water Service

Will the City provide access to potable water to property owners with a frozen water service?

What’s the difference between a water main break and a frozen water service?

Who is responsible for water service lines?

How many complaints has the city received about no water service this year?

What should citizens do if they suspect they have a frozen water service?

Are property owners charged a fee for thawing a frozen water service?

Are citizens permitted to contract a licensed plumber to thaw their water service?

Can citizens thaw frozen pipes on their own?

How can I reduce the risk of frozen water pipes this winter?

Will the City adjust the water bills of citizens who choose run their water to prevent frozen water service?

Will the City provide access to potable water to property owners with a frozen water service?

Yes, the City of Greater Sudbury invites citizens to fill their own containers at any municipal filling station located in the following areas: Bay Street in Whitefish, Countryside Drive in Sudbury (near the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex), and Spruce Street in Garson.

The City of Greater Sudbury advises residents who are accessing potable water at municipal filling station on Bancroft Drive, near Moonlight Beach Road, has frozen and will be closed until further notice

Alternatively, a number of local arenas will be available as water filling stations. Residents may fill their own containers at the locations and during the hours noted below:

Cambrian Arena (Cambrian Heights), Carmichael Arena (Minnow Lake), Capreol Arena, Raymond Plourde Arena (Val Caron), McClelland Arena (Copper Cliff) and Toe Blake (Coniston):

  • 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
  • 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Centennial Arena (Hanmer), Dr. Edgar Leclair Community Centre / Arena (Azilda), T.M. Davies Community Centre / Arena (Lively):

  • 9 a.m. to Midnight, Monday to Friday
  • 8 a.m. to Midnight, Saturday and Sunday

I.J. Coady Memorial Arena (Levack):

  • 4 p.m. to Midnight, Monday to Friday
  • 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Addresses of all arenas are available at www.greatersudbury.ca/arenas

The following pools and fitness centres will be made available to citizens without water for showering purposes as follows. Citizens must bring their own towels and toiletries, register (sign in/out) and be accompanied by an adult if under the age of 16. Please bring your ID.

Please make sure you show up at least 30 minutes before closing

Copper Cliff
Dow Pool
8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon-Fri
8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday
12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Onaping
Onaping Pool
8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon-Fri
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

Dowling
Dowling Leisure Centre
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday
11a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Azilda
LEL Fitness Centre
7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri
9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. & Sun.

Capreol
Millennium Centre
8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

Hanmer
Howard Armstrong Rec Centre
7 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

Sudbury
Nickel District Pool
8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.
12 p.m.-4 p.m. Sun.

Gatchell Pool
8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
10: a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

Falconbridge
Falconbridge Wellness Centre
5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mon - Thurs
5:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

 

What’s the difference between a water main break and a frozen water service?

Municipal water mains are the primary underground pipes that carry treated municipal water from water treatment plants to different parts of the city. These pipes are generally larger in diameter than water service lines. Water services are the individual pipes that branch off from the water main and serve individual premises.

Service lines are smaller in diameter than a water main. Water is delivered on demand through a service line, meaning the pipe has less volume of water traveling through it than a water main. Adequate water flow helps protect pipes from freezing, placing service lines at a higher risk of freezing than a water main.

Either by breaking or freezing, damage to a municipal water main or service line can result in low water pressure or no water in your place of residence or business.

Who is responsible for water service lines?

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 Greater Sudbury is responsible for the service located between the property line and the water main.

How many complaints has the city received about no water service this year?

From January 1 to February 24 this year, the City’s 3-1-1 Call Centre has received 635 reports from citizens of no water service at their place of residence or business. This compares with 370 reports in the same period of 2014.

Why are there so many more complaints this year compared to last?

The number of frozen water services reported during the winter of 2014-15 has not been experienced since the winter of 1994-95. This winter is a “perfect storm” for frozen pipes: light snow cover, plunging temperatures and saturated ground conditions, pushing frost to depths of about 2 to 2.5 metres (7 to 8 feet) in some places.

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What should citizens do if they suspect they have a frozen water service?

The first step is to dial 3-1-1 for municipal service. 3-1-1 is available seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

The City is asking property owners to provide permission to thaw when they first call in with a no water issue. 

Calls are logged in the order they are received. A Water/Wastewater Services Operator will be assigned to visit your place of residence or business.

If the frozen pipe is somewhere inside their place of residence or business, property owners may wish to thaw the service either themselves or with the help of a licensed plumber.

The crew will determine at the time of thawing whether the outdoor portion of service line is frozen on municipal property or private property.

When can citizens expect a visit by Water/Wastewater Services?

Water/Wastewater Services Operators work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, but have been unable to respond to this year’s high volume of calls in a timely manner. Additional staff has been mobilized to reduce wait times. The current wait time for a visit by a Water/Wastewater Services Operator is one day. Residents who are not home at the time of the visit will find an information sheet in their mailbox.

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When can citizens expect a crew to thaw their frozen water service?

Municipal crews and contractors have been working seven days a week to thaw frozen water services but have been unable to respond to this year’s high volume of calls in a timely manner. Additional staff has been mobilized to reduce wait times. An estimated 10 to 20 thaws can be completed each day, depending on the circumstances encountered at each property.

Are citizens required to be at their place of residence or business when a crew arrives to thaw the water service?

Yes, crews must access private property to thaw the frozen water service.

Property owners will be notified by telephone in advance of arrival by the crew. Thawing crews will make every attempt to contact residents within 30 minutes to one hour in advance of their visit. The amount of advance notice will vary, as crews are moving from one property to the next following restoration of each frozen water service. The amount of time to thaw a frozen water service will vary according to conditions.

Property owners are encouraged to ensure that their water valve and water meter are accessible to thawing crews and not hidden by drywall nor other indoor installations.

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Are property owners charged a fee for thawing a frozen water service?

Once the crew has thawed a frozen water service, it can be determined whether the frozen pipe was on municipal property or private property.

If the frozen water service is on municipal property, there is no charge to the property owner for thawing. The property owner will be instructed to leave their water running at a steady stream about the width of a drinking straw to prevent refreezing. Extra water consumption for billing purposes will be adjusted based on daily average consumption during the same period in the previous year.

Should the water service refreeze on municipal property, property owners must follow the two step process to notify the City. If it is determined that the property owner has not followed instructions to leave their water running to prevent frozen pipes, the property owner may be charged associated crew costs for thawing the water service a second time.

If the frozen water service is on private property, property owners will be charged $173 per hour. This fee applies each time the municipality must thaw a water service on private property.

Property owners whose water service has frozen on private property will be advised to leave their water running at a steady stream about the width of a drinking straw to prevent refreezing. Extra water consumption will appear on the property owner’s water bill.

Should the water service refreeze on private property, property owners must follow the two step process to notify the City and pay associated crew costs for thawing.

It is important to note that air temperature cannot be used as a marker to determine when the risk of frozen pipes has lessened. It will be at least three months before frost has left the ground.

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Are citizens permitted to contract a licensed plumber to thaw their water service?

Citizens have the right to contract work to a plumber or contractor or their choice; however, all charges (including additional water consumption from running your tap) must be incurred by the property owner, whether the frozen water service is on municipal property or private property.

Can citizens thaw frozen pipes on their own?

If you are able to determine that the frozen section of water pipe is located inside your home, you can try the following methods. If you are unable to locate the frozen section of indoor pipe or are unsure what to do, please contact a licensed plumber.

IMPORTANT: Never use an open flame to thaw a frozen water pipe. Always use caution when applying any heat source near insulation or other flammable materials.

  • Open a cold water tap nearest the frozen section so you will know when the pipe is thawed.
  • Apply heat using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe or an electric hair dryer.
  • You may also use a portable heater with caution, especially around flammable materials.
  • Ensure that rooms or crawl spaces where pipes are located are adequately heated.

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How can I reduce the risk of frozen water pipes this winter?

  • 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.

Will the City adjust the water bills of citizens who choose run their water to prevent frozen water service?

No, unless a property owner receives a letter from the City with specific instructions to run water at a steady stream to prevent freezing of service lines on municipal property, the property owner is responsible for the full cost of running the water. Consumption charges will appear on the next water bill.

Why doesn’t the City instruct every citizen to run their water to prevent additional frozen water services?

If every citizen were to run their water continuously, the City’s water and wastewater treatment plants would be overwhelmed, running out of water at one end of the system and overflowing at the other. The City’s water and wastewater system is not designed for around-the-clock simultaneous water delivery and treatment for every property.

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Will the City provide potable water to property owners with a frozen water service?

In some instances, the City of Greater Sudbury will install a temporary service connection to provide treated municipal water to the property. The temporary “bib” system connects a hose that is specially designed to carry potable water to an outdoor water faucet. This system is usually used only when various methods to thaw a frozen water service have been unsuccessful.

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