To help you enjoy a carefree winter, follow our five easy steps to protect your home from the cold:
#1 Wrap up your pipes
Protecting your pipes may be the last thing on your mind when cold weather hits, 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. Just remember to use waterproof lagging for any outdoor pipes.
#2 Keep your home warm
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 or holiday, 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 cheaper energy bills.
#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.
#5 Service your boiler
Make sure you get your boiler serviced regularly. 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.
If your pipes have frozen
- Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
- Slowly thaw the pipe with either a warm towel (we recommend using your tumble dryer or soaking them in warm water), starting at the end nearest to the tap. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch
If your pipes have burst
- Turn off the stop tap
- 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
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.