If your home suffers a burst pipe this winter, you could be left without water and a hefty repair bill to fix the damage.

But there are a few simple steps you can take to protect your pipework and prevent it happening in the first place.

All pipework within your property boundary is your responsibility, so it really is worth protecting it properly to avoid serious problems during cold weather.


Avoiding frozen pipes

  • Insulate your water tanks and pipes with WRAS approved insulation, available from DIY stores
  • Make sure there are no gaps at the bends, valves or fittings.
  • Pay special attention to water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like loft spaces and garages and check insulation in any property likely to be unoccupied for long periods
  • Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe
  • Locate you internal stop tap and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. Most are under the kitchen sink and close by turning clockwise

Get your boiler serviced

  • Minimise draughts and close doors to unheated parts of the property
  • Leave the heating on low when you are away and ask a neighbour to check the property regularly
  • If a property is going to be unoccupied for long periods, turn off the water at the stop tap and consider draining down the system so there’s no water left in the pipes
  • Keep a separate supply of drinking water for emergencies

If a pipe freezes

  • Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
  • Check to see if the pipe has burst
  • Open the affected tap. Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest the tap
  • Never use a naked flame, hairdryer or blowtorch to thaw the pipe
  • Don’t leave taps dripping or running as the water may not drain down the plughole if the pipe below is frozen

If a pipe bursts

  • Turnoff the stop tap and boiler
  • Open all taps to drain the system quickly
  • Soak up and block escaping water with thick towels
  • Call a plumber. Local water industry recommended plumbers can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk
  • If water has leaked near electrics or into any appliances switch them off at the mains
  • Turn off taps once pipework is repaired

From health to heating – where to find other useful information

Wrapping up for winter isn’t just about your pipework – it’s also making sure you and your family are ready for cold weather.

From tips on driving during a cold snap to finding out about benefits and allowances you may be able to claim, there’s plenty of useful tips and links to organisations which can help you at www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/advice.


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