Don’t give water pipes the cold shoulder this winter

With temperatures plummeting across the country, households are being warned they could pay a high price if they give their home’s water pipes the cold shoulder.

Research by the Consumer Council for Water suggests less than half of households are likely to have taken steps to wrap up their property’s water pipes and protect them from the icy clutches of freezing weather.

But no one wants to suffer the misery of a frozen pipe bursting, leaving them without tap water and an average insurance claim of £6,500 to £7,500 to clear up the mess.

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to frozen pipes, which can have disastrous consequences. Lagging your home’s pipework is a simple and relatively cheap way of giving you peace of mind that a burst pipe won’t cause serious damage to your home.”

Even if you live in a rented property it is worth investigating whether they have been lagged by the landlord, as a burst pipe could end up wrecking your possessions.

Here are our six simple steps to reduce the risk of a pipe freezing:

Act now:

  • Get your pipes and water tanks insulated – visit your local DIY store or shop on line for a variety of products, such as lagging, that can help.
  • Find your stop tap – being able to turn the water off quickly could save a lot of damage.
  • Insulate outside taps or turn them off at the stop tap and drain the water from them.
  • Fix any dripping taps or overflows. A build-up of ice can cause a blockage.
  • Get contact details of a good plumber – if you do have a problem you will want a professional on hand as quickly as possible. You can check the WaterSafe website for a list of registered plumbers.
  • If you go away for a few days, leave your heating on low and set it to come on at least once every day.

And here’s what to do if you think your home has a frozen pipe:

  • Find your stop tap and turn it off.
  • Make sure any nearby cold taps are turned on, to allow the water to escape when it thaws.
  • Do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts when the water thaws.
  • Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing. If you can identify which pipe is frozen apply a hot water bottle or hot wet towel.
  • If you notice a leak once the water has thawed and pressure in the pipe has built up again, turn off the stop tap and call a plumber.

For more advice on how to stay warm and safe this winter visit the Met Office’s Get ready for winter website

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