News / Calgary

Thawing temperatures cause dozens of Calgary water pipes to burst

The Calgary Fire Department has responded to more than 100 water-related calls in the past 24 hours

City of Calgary employees work to turn water back on for a block on 17 Avenue SW after a burst pipe temporarily shut down some businesses on Jan. 2, 2017.

Elizabeth Cameron / Calgary Freelance

City of Calgary employees work to turn water back on for a block on 17 Avenue SW after a burst pipe temporarily shut down some businesses on Jan. 2, 2017.

The end of an extreme cold snap in Calgary means the fire department will be handling a lot of calls concerning burst water pipes this week.

Calgary Fire Department (CFD) Public Information Officer Carol Henke said approximately one third of 370 incidents they responded to between 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 and 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday were water-related.

“So probably close 125 in a 24 hour period,” Henke said. “With the warmer weather … the ice is thawing and creates a burst pipe, or water leaking. I expect we’ll see some more of these calls in the next few days as the pipes continue to thaw.”

After more than a week of below-30 degree temperatures in Calgary, pipe breaks or leaks created by water that expanded as it froze is causing headaches for residential and commercial tenants alike.

According to the City of Calgary, the ground can freeze between six and 10 feet down – more than deep enough to freeze any part of the more than 4,650 kilometres of water distribution pipes in its network.

A majority of the calls in 2018 are from larger buildings with sprinkler lines such as commercial or multi-residential buildings, Henke said, but the CFD has also responded to some house calls from residences where people have left a window open, or gone on vacation with their furnace or thermostat turned down.

“What happens is, these (sprinkler) lines are usually close to an outside wall or outside roof and have inadequate insulation,” Henke explained. “Never leave your windows open (in the winter), especially if you’re leaving for an extended period of time.”

She added it’s a good idea to check your insurance policy and have someone regularly check on your home if you are going away for a while.

Some buildings have to be evacuated as a safety precaution when there is a leak, Henke said.

“If the running water is creating an electrical hazard or safety hazard, our first job is to evacuate people to safety, and then our role as well is to stop the water flow to prevent any further damage,” she said.

More on Metronews.ca