In extremely cold temperatures, it is possible for poorly insulated or shallow water services to freeze. You may notice this through a reduction in water pressure or there may be no water at all. It is also possible for the water meter itself to freeze, which can damage the meter

If you suspect frozen a water service, call the City of Cambridge Environment Services Department and one of our licensed water Operators will help. If water is frozen on private property, property owners will have to contact a plumber to have the service thawed. If the water meter is frozen and damaged, we will need to install a new water meter.

If freezing occurs on the private side of the property line, the City may charge the homeowner for the cost to restore water service. Learn more about water and sewer lines on private and public property.

Potential issues with frozen water lines         

  • Lack of running water - The most obvious danger of a frozen pipe is the inability to access running water. This can interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks such as washing the dishes or taking a shower.                                                                        
  • Potential to burst - The second problem that can occur when pipes freeze is that the pipe actually bursts. If the pipe bursts outside, this could also create dangerous slippery conditions while the temperatures are below freezing.
  • Water pipes that are located along the exterior walls of a home or in cold zones are most vulnerable to freezing. This is because they may not have an adequate amount of insulation protecting them from the exterior temperatures. Pipes that are located in attics or in basements may also have a greater tendency to freeze. These pipes may not receive the same amount of heat as the rest of the property.

How to ensure your water line does not freeze

  • Outdoor faucets and hose-bibs should be turned off in the basement and drained before the temperatures fall below freezing.      
  • Ensure that cold zones where water lines are present are kept above freezing with heaters or pipe insulation. This may include the cold cellar, or the area where the water meter has been installed.
  • Leave a cold water tap running slowly at a level just above a drip, this running water will prevent the service pipe from freezing, but will increase your water consumption costs.

How can I correct frozen pipe problems permanently?

If your water service line on your property has frozen in the past, the best solution is to lower your service line to a depth that can't be penetrated by frost. The City requires new service lines be buried at a minimum depth of 1.8 meters (6 feet). Contact us for more information.