We all knew that we would have to pay for our record-breaking summer weather and, if Met Office reports are right, the pay-off will be freezing temperatures in January. To date, temperatures have been relatively mild, which can lead to complacency. Don’t get caught out: take a look at our top tips to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting when the cold weather rolls in.
Keep your heating lower, for longer
Switching your heating off for most of the time and just switching it on for short blasts can be a false economy for several reasons. It takes more energy to get the temperature up and can lead to condensation problems. Crucially, failing to have your heating on when the temperature drops to freezing can result in frozen pipes. If you are going away during the winter, or you have an empty let or holiday home, set the timer for the heating to be on low for longer periods of time.
Switch your tap to drip
Burst pipes occur because water expands when it freezes. We have spent the last year telling you that you could save water and money by fixing costly drips but leaving your tap to drip will keep water moving through your pipes and will help to prevent them from bursting if they do freeze. If freezing weather is predicted or if you are going away during the winter, leave a tap dripping just in case.
The best way to prevent your pipes from bursting is to prevent them from freezing in the first place. Lagging, foam rubber insulation and heating tape a re all good ways of insulating your water pipes and protecting them from the elements. Pay particular attention to pipes that are more exposed to the cold, for example, external pipes or pipes in cold attics.
If your pipes freeze it’s not the end of the world; provided you act quickly, it could just be a small inconvenience. First, turn your water off at the stop cock. Then turn the cold taps on, to release water when it defrosts. You could try manually defrosting the pipes using a hot water bottle or hairdryer. Start at the tap end and work your way backwards. Once you think that your pipes have defrosted, take a dry cloth or kitchen towel and run it the length of the pipe. If the cloth stays dry, you should be safe to switch the water back on. If it is wet, your pipe may have split; call a local plumber before you do anything else.
If you think that your pipes might be frozen and you are not confident fixing it yourself, don’t worry; most local plumbers have a 24 hour call out service and will be happy to help you.