We’ve got some simple and cost-effective ways to help protect your home from nasty bursts caused by the cold, so you can continue to enjoy all the wonderful things you can do with water.
With a small amount of effort, you can make a huge difference and enjoying a cosy winter at home without the worry.
Check out our top tips and advice on what to do if your pipes do burst or freeze below.
#1 Pipes – wrap 'em up!
Protecting your pipes may seem like a dull and unnecessary job, but it really is essential to prepare your home to prevent bursts.
We recommend covering all of your water pipes – including those outside your home – with a foam tube called lagging. It's cheap, easy to fit and available from most DIY stores for about £3. Just remember to use waterproof lagging for any outdoor pipes.
#2 Keep your home nice and toasty
If you can, try to keep your home snug at all times. Try putting draught excluders on doors or a thin sheet of card with tinfoil behind your radiator (this will reflect heat back into your room, meaning it warms up faster and retains more heat).
We also recommend you keep your heating on low, even when you’re out of the house, to help keep your home warm and prevent pipes from freezing.
#3 Bleed your radiators
Trapped air causes radiators to have cold spots, reducing their efficiency. You can bleed your radiators yourself using a radiator key or a flat screwdriver (depending on your valve type) and slowly turning the valve counter clockwise until water starts dripping out. This will release trapped air and let hot water in – giving you a warmer home and saving you money.
#4 Be prepared
Make sure you know where your stop tap is (most are under the kitchen sink or in the cupboard under the stairs), as you may need to turn your water off quickly if your pipes freeze or burst. It's also a good idea to have the name and number of a qualified plumber to hand so if your pipes do freeze or burst you can call them straight away.
You can also pop one of our handy tags around your stop tap once you've located it. These include a space to write your plumbers name, so you don’t have to go looking in an emergency. Download yours for free here.
#5 Service your boiler
We know you've got other important things on your mind, but it's really important to get your boiler serviced regularly if you can. We recommend you do this about once a year. Lots of modern boilers also have a frost setting, which is great for preventing frozen pipes when your central heating is not in full use.
What to do in an emergency
If your pipes have burst
- Turn off your stop tap
- Turn off electrics at the fuse box if water is leaking near any electrical appliances
- Open all taps to drain the system quickly
- Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
- Call a qualified plumber. To find your nearest WaterSafe accredited plumber visit watersafe.org.uk
- If water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains
- Turn off taps once the pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding
If your pipes have frozen
- Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
- Slowly thaw the pipe with a warm towel (we recommend using your tumble dryer or soaking them in warm water) or a hairdryer, starting at the end nearest to the tap. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch
Here for you
It's important to look after each other in these difficult times, even if it's just a small act of kindness. Winter can be challenging for many, especially if you're elderly or vulnerable. That's why we have our Priority Services Register to help those most in need.
Registering for our free Priority Services means we'll be able to provide any additional support needed, and respond quickly to any queries. You can register yourself or someone you care about online here, or you can call our dedicated Customer Care Team on 0333 000 2468.
If you need help paying your bill due to COVID-19, ill health, unemployment or another reason we have a range of tariffs to support you financially including:
- Social Tariff: This can help if your household income is less than £16,385 excluding any disability payments. The tariff will cap your charges to a discounted rate, with customers on average saving about 30 per cent of their annual water and waste water charges
- WaterSure: This tariff puts a cap on metered water charges. To qualify you must have a water meter, be in receipt of a qualifying benefit or have a medical condition that requires additional water usage
- Helping Hand Scheme: A scheme funded by South East Water which offers financial assistance to clear water and waste water debt
- Water Direct: This can help if you're on qualifying benefits with money taken direct from these benefits to help pay your bill
- Short Term Payment Support: We have a number of options to help you manage your water bill including payment breaks
Find out more and apply here. You can also call our team on 0333 000 2468. All of our advisors are specially trained to offer confidential advice and support. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 8am - 7pm.
If you're worried about heating your home this winter, SGN Gas also has a new initiative which may be able to help. The scheme offers funding to connect homes to the gas network and could help with the costs of installing central heating. Find out more on the SGN website.
From health to heating – where to find other useful information
Wrapping up for winter isn’t just about your pipework – it’s also about 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.