Wrap up warm for winter
With a Siberian chill expected to grip the South West over the next few days, now is the time to check your pipes before disaster strikes.
The Met Office in Exeter predicts temperatures will plunge on Thursday and Friday (January 3 and 4, 2008) and snow flurries are also forecast as an icy blast from the steppes reaches Britain.
South West Water normally sees a rise in calls from customers with burst and blocked pipes following the first cold snap of winter but carrying out a few simple checks can often avert trouble.
Water Distribution Manager Chris Delve explained: "Sub-zero temperatures can result in frost damage to exposed pipes and possibly lead to flooding which is not only a bother to clean up but also costly to repair.
"But there's no need to panic, you can protect your home and help us keep leakage under control by remembering to do a few simple things such as checking your insulation and setting your central heating on low if you go away."
To help customers, South West Water has issued two lists of tips on how to safeguard your pipes and what to do if you do have frozen pipes.
Safeguarding your pipes
- Fully lag all pipes especially those in unheated areas such as the loft and garage
- Check existing insulation and replace sections showing wear and tear
- On cold days leave your loft hatch open to make sure warm air is reaching every area with pipes
- If you go away, leave your central heating on low rather than turning off completely and ask a friend to keep an eye out for obvious leaks
- Insulate your water tanks on all sides but not underneath to allow warm air to circulate
- Make sure you know where your stopcock is and how to turn it off
- Keep the number of a local plumber to hand
- Repair that dripping tap – if it freezes, the supply pipe could become blocked
What to do if you discover a problem
- If you find you have no water, ask your neighbours if they still have a supply - if not, it may be your pipes are frozen
- Check pipes for splitting and remember a burst will probably occur when frozen pipes thaw out
- Locate your stopcock and shut it off
- Drain your system by flushing the toilet and opening cold sink and bath taps
- Turn off the central heating and any water heating appliances
- If you find no damage, open all your taps and thaw the pipes using a warm towel or hot water bottle
- Once your pipes have thawed and you're satisfied there is no leak, close the taps you have opened and slowly open the stopcock