Kimberley, B.C. no longer using electricity to thaw residents’ water lines
By Kavita Sabharwal-Chomiuk
During the winter, the potential for frozen water lines increases. However, operations staff in Kimberley, B.C. have announced that although they may be able to provide advice on mitigating freezing or thawing frozen lines, they will no longer be performing electrical thaws for residents.
Based on recommendations by the city’s liability insurance provider, Municipal Insurance Association (MIA), City Council directed operations staff to no longer perform this service for residents, and to develop a policy to reflect this change.
In the 2019 Risk Control Report, the MIA stated that using electricity to thaw frozen water lines can cause the loss of small electrical appliances and at worst, result in total devastation with the entire loss of homes. According to the report, stray currents will find the path of least resistance, and that path can lead to fire and property loss. Electrical thaws can also severely damage city infrastructure and residential water lines, leading to expensive repairs.
The city recommends that to significantly reduce the possibility of a frozen water line, homeowners leave a tap running cold water day and night (stream should be the size of a pencil or wider) or install a bleeder valve. Residents should also heat spaces where pipes may be exposed to drafts from outside air or colder temperatures using space heaters or heating tapes.