After one of the hottest summers on record the looming prospect of a cold winter is enough to send a shiver down the spine. But that’s nothing compared to the damage freezing temperatures can do to our home’s water pipes if we leave them exposed to the cold.
There are lots of simple things we can do to reduce the risk of a pipe freezing or bursting, as well as making sure we have the support we need if our water company struggles to keep our taps running.
Take action in autumn – wrap up your pipes
- Make sure any water pipes and taps that are exposed to the cold, including in your loft and outside, are insulated. You can use felt, pipe lagging or other insulating material to keep them wrapped up.
- If you have a cold water tank, make sure that is insulated too.
- Find your stop tap and check it’s working in case you need to cut off the supply in an emergency.
- If it’s particularly cold outside leave your heating on a low setting overnight.
- Fix any dripping taps or overflows. A build-up of ice can cause a blockage.
- Ensure you have contact details for a reliable plumber to hand.
- If you go away for a few days, leave your heating on low and set it to come on at least once every day.
But what if a pipe does freeze or burst?
When you find a frozen pipe use your stop tap to turn off the supply and then slowly thaw it with the help of a hairdryer, hot water bottle or a towel soaked in hot water.
If a pipe has already burst reach for the stop tap again and make sure your central heating boiler or immersion heater is turned off. Leave a tap on inside your home so any thawed water can escape and contact an approved plumber. You’ll find plenty of options at www.watersafe.org.uk
Sign up for free extra help if your taps stop running
Even if we’ve done everything we can to protect our home there are still some things that are beyond our control. There’s nothing we can to do prevent a pipe from bursting on our water company’s network – but we can make sure we have access to the support we need during any supply disruption. Not everyone is able to leave home and get to a water company’s bottled water collection point or carry bottles home. If this applies to you, or someone you know, by signing up to your water company’s Priority Services Register you can ask for bottled water to be delivered to your door. That’s just one of a number of additional free services you can access through these schemes – our information note can tell you more.