Frozen pipes resource centre opens in Winnipeg's northeast

Winnipeggers with frozen pipes in the city's northeast now have a place to go for water, showers and information from city staff.

1,325 homes and businesses across the city have frozen pipes

Some Winnipeg homeowners don't want to wait weeks for city crews to thaw the frozen pipes in their homes, instead turning to alternatives being offered by private companies. 2:10

Winnipeggers with frozen pipes in the city's northeast now have a place to go for water, to take showers and to get information from city staff.

The City of Winnipeg opened a third Frozen Pipe Citizen Resource Centre on Thursday at the Elmwood Kildonans Pool at 909 Concordia Ave.

Resource centres are also open inside the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre at 625 Osborne St. and the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex at 999 Sargent Ave.

The centres offer drinking water, snacks, shower facilities and information to residents who have lost access to city water services due to frozen pipes.

Inside the City of Winnipeg's Frozen Pipes Resource Centre at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre. A third centre opened on Thursday inside the Elmwood Kildonans Pool. (Sarah Penton/CBC)
As well, residents can talk to a 311 representative in person about reporting frozen pipes and/or getting a temporary water hose connection.

A total of 1,325 homes and businesses across the city are on the city's waiting list for pipe-thawing as of Thursday, which is up 25 from the day before.

Another 6,312 properties are flagged as being at risk of their pipes freezing up. That number has not changed from earlier this week.

The city has advised the owners of those properties to keep one tap running a trickle of water for the time being.

You can see if your home or business is at risk by checking the electronic Citizens' Information Service on the City of Winnipeg's website.

Meanwhile, homeowners who are connected to a neighbour's water supply via temporary hose lines are urged to protect the outside taps from freezing as the temperature is expected to drop this weekend.

The city says residents of the properties on both sides of the hose line should wrap old towels around the outside taps to insulate them a little.

If the temporary hose lines do freeze up, residents can call 311 to request thawing.

If the outside tap does freeze up can can't be turned off, residents can try wrapping it with hot wet towels or pouring a cup of hot water on it, according to the city.

Some homeowners not waiting for city crews

With people having to wait weeks for one of the city's three pipe-thawing machines to work on their properties, some are choosing not to wait any longer.

Karl Schwab and his family learned they had frozen pipes a day after moving into their brand-new house earlier this month.

"We waited a year for the home to be built and we thought, 'Well, this is our day. We're moving into the home we've saved up for,'" Schwab said.

Faced with the long wait for a city crew, he instead hired Shields Plumbing & Heating to address the problem with a small electric machine.

"What we're doing is running a constant current through the pipe, causing the ice buildup that's inside the line to thaw out," said company owner Donald Connors.

Connors said while there are cases that involve frozen pipes on the city's side of the property line and prove to be too difficult to thaw, his crew has been able to get the water running 70 per cent of the time.

"We've been having relatively good luck with the machine. It hasn't let us down. But it's like anything, you know, it just takes time," he said.

Connors has been getting calls from new customers these days, as have Tractus Projects and J.B. Plumbing, which developed a pipe-thawing device that shoots hot water down pipes.

Jaret Horbatiuk, Tractus Projects' principal, said he has been overwhelmed with calls and emails since he used the machine to thaw out the pipes in a Wolseley family's home on Wednesday.

Horbatiuk said he's still refining the device, but he wants to make it available to others.

"People can build this, whether it's the city, other plumbing trades, whoever it is … we have a good solid design that won't blow or break," he said Thursday.

"Our goal is to talk to the city as well, and sort of share our knowledge."

A City of Winnipeg spokesperson told CBC News that Tractus Projects and J.B. Plumbing have been contacted to schedule a demonstration.