Households are being warned not to give their home’s water pipes the cold shoulder this winter and wrap them up warm before temperatures plummet.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) has joined the Met Office and WaterSafe1 in urging consumers to take action now to protect their pipes from freezing and bursting in the icy grip of winter.
More than half of households in England and Wales admitted to not protecting their pipes last winter2 – increasing the risk of a burst pipe and being landed with an average insurance claim of £6,500 to £7,500 to repair the damage.3
Alan Lovell, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “A burst pipe can very quickly cause dreadful damage to your home and nothing can compensate for the misery and disruption. Don’t gamble on it being a mild winter – take action now so you don’t pay a heavy price later.”
The call to take action during the autumn by protecting pipes with lagging and insulation forms a key part of the Government and Met Office’s Get Ready for Winter Campaign.
Mel Harrowsmith, Head of Civil Contingencies at the Met Office, said:
“While it’s too early to predict what weather this winter will bring, our Get Ready for Winter pages provide useful information that helps the UK public to be prepared and safe during the winter months, whatever the weather.”
Young people aged 24 to 35 are the least likely to protect pipework, while a fifth of us have no idea what to do if a pipe freezes in our home.
Even if you live in a rented property it’s also 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 this winter:
- Get your pipes and water tanks insulated – visit your local DIY store or shop online 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.
- Don’t turn hot taps on until the central heating is switched off.
- 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 information on the Get Ready for Winter Campaign visit http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/get-ready-for-winter
1 WaterSafe is a central register supported by all UK water companies and the seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All recognised plumbers have specific training in Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws, which helps prevent the risk of contamination of drinking water.
2 Taken from CCWater’s Water Matters 2014 research
3 Figures taken from the Association of British Insurers.