Annual Frozen Water Pipes Service Notices

The City’s Infrastructure and Water Services Department is taking proactive steps to prevent frozen water service pipes.

Below is helpful information you can share with your communities. During the cold months, the frost deepens in the ground which may lead to frozen water service pipes. 

Did you know?

The City of Ottawa provides clean drinking water to more than 950,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers. The water is delivered through more than 3,200 kilometers of underground pipelines.

Depending on location and installation year of a water service pipe, some are not buried as deeply or properly insulated as others, meaning they are at risk of freezing at this time of year.  Approximately 2,000 Ottawa homes and businesses may be impacted by frozen water service pipes. 

How does the City determine if a property will receive a frozen water service notice?

The City relies on a model that uses the average daily mean temperature, as observed by Environment Canada, at the Ottawa International Airport to predict frost depths and mitigate the potential risk of a frozen water service pipe. Frost monitoring begins once daily temperatures are consistently below zero degrees Celsius.

Resident notification process

During typical winters in Ottawa, some homes and businesses experience a frozen water service pipe that prevents water from reaching their internal plumbing. To minimize the risk of water service interruption, as many as 2,000 customers may proactively receive Frozen Water Service Warning – Run Water Notification letters. 

The City will issue notices to customers who have previously experienced a frozen water service pipe, using a phased notification process.

The first notice will be mailed on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

The first notification will be sent to homes and businesses at imminent risk at the lowest frost depth threshold, followed by further communication as deeper frost depth level triggers are reached. The notice provides customers with advance notification about the frozen water service pipe risks, and tips and tricks on how to protect water service pipes on their property and what to do if the water service pipe freezes.

The timing of the additional notices will follow the first notice and will be determined by the cold temperatures and frost depths.

Cost of running water during an advisory for residents and businesses

If records show the service froze on the customer’s private property, it is the customer’s responsibility to cover the cost of running the water. The notice received from the City will inform them of this situation.

If records show the service froze on the City's property, and the customer has received a written notification from the City to run their water this winter, they will not be charged extra for the cost of running their water. The water bill will be calculated based on previous consumption patterns.

How to prevent frozen water service pipes?

While the City maintains the water infrastructure up to the property line, it is the homeowner’s and businesses’ responsibility to maintain their plumbing and water service pipes.  Residents and businesses can protect the water service pipes on their private property, between the property line shut-off valve and the home or business, in a variety of ways:

  • Proactively insulate pipes near exterior walls
  • Ensure the indoor air temperature is kept above eight degrees Celsius in areas that contain water service pipes, especially near the water meter
  • Visit for additional tips to prevent frozen water service pipes  

Ottawa’s water is world-class.  Preventative steps taken now will ensure it continues to arrive at your tap.

Should you have any questions related to the above, please contact Brian Simpson, Manager, Water Utility Customer Service, at 613-580-2424, extension 21744 or, by email at [email protected].

If you require immediate assistance or need to report a frozen water service on behalf of a resident or a business, please contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1. 

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Address: 110 Laurier Ave W, Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1