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Avoid a burst water pipe nightmare this winter

  • 14th December 2021
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It could be a soggy festive period in south east households following revelations in a survey that more than half of respondents admitted to not knowing how to deal with burst water pipes in cold weather.

The survey by UK plumbing register WaterSafe showed that 51 per cent* of people who responded from the south east of England said they have no idea of what to do in a water pipe emergency.

As a result South East Water is urging all its customers to take advantage now before the cold weather hits of its free pipe lagging and tap protectors available from its website or by buying industry approved lagging and tap protectors from DIY stores.

This will help avoid burst water pipes particularly in attics and outside buildings says the company which serves 2.2 million customers across parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.

It also asks people to take time to remind family, friends and neighbours to help them prevent further misery and expense cold weather can bring.

Burst pipes are a very unpleasant and inconvenient problem and when they happen inside the home or in the boundary of a property they are usually the home owner’s responsibility to repair.

Another important winter task is to find the internal stop tap so it can be quickly shut off if a pipe does burst. This can be found under the kitchen sink, under the stairs or in garages, utility rooms, cellars or downstairs toilets. It’s a good idea to make sure the stop tap is working – and to check it every six months for peace of mind.

South East Water and WaterSafe are both supporting the Met Office’s Weather Ready Campaign which encourages everyone to think about what they can do to prepare for and cope with severe weather.

Top advice in the event of a water pipe emergency includes:

  • Turn off the water supply coming into the property at the stop tap and switch off the boiler
  • Open all taps to drain the system as quickly as possible, saving some water in a bucket for flushing toilets and hand washing. When the water stops running, turn all the taps off
  • Soak up escaping water with towels to limit the damage
  • Call a WaterSafe approved plumber who is qualified to work on the plumbing system
  • If water has leaked near electrics, do not touch them and switch them off at the fuse box
  • Contact home insurance company who will advise on what to do next.

Steve Andrews, Head of Central Operations, said: “By insulating hot water pipes and protecting cold water pipes and taps now you will help prevent them from freezing and bursting.

“If the worst happens it is important that everyone knows what to do by quickly taking the appropriate action to help minimise damage to their property.”

For the winter lagging kit, additional advice and a video on how to protect your water pipes. The name of a qualified plumber can be found at watersafe.org.uk or by calling call 0333 207 9030

Find out more about the #WeatherReady campaign, which is run by the Met Office in partnership with the Cabinet Office, at metoffice.gov.uk/weatherready.

*WaterSafe interviewed 2,000 UK homeowners in November 2021

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