Get ready for winter
South West Water is joining forces with the Met Office and other organisations to urge customers to be ready for cold weather.
Any big freeze is followed by a thaw and homeowners and businesses can be left counting the cost if their pipes burst after periods of sub-zero temperatures.
To help you safeguard your water supply - and your bank balance - we are offering advice on how to avoid problems with your pipes as part of the national Get Ready for Winter campaign.
Here are our top ten tips for a problem-free winter:
Top ten tips for a problem-free winter
- Know where your internal stop tap is and how to turn it off. If you don't have one please consider getting one installed by a reputable plumber so you can operate and control the supply in the case of an emergency
- Check existing insulation and replace areas showing wear and tear
- Fully lag all pipes if possible but especially those in unheated areas such as lofts, garages or gardens
- Get advice about insulation thickness from the experts at a DIY store
- Isolate and drain outside taps
- On very cold days, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate and prevent pipes from freezing
- If you go away for a few days, ask a friend to visit and keep watch for leaks
- If you go away for an extended period of time, leave your central heating on a low setting
- Cold water tanks should be insulated on all sides but not underneath to allow warm air to circulate
- Keep the contact details of a reputable plumber to hand.
What to do if you discover a problem
- If you don't have any water check with neighbours. If they still have water, your pipes may be frozen
- Check pipes for signs of a split - a burst will not occur until the water has thawed
- Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
- Turn off the central heating and any other water heating appliances
- Drain the system by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks and baths
- If you don't find any damage, turn on all the taps and thaw the frozen pipe using a warm towel or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel
- When the pipes have thawed and you're sure no damage or leak has occurred, turn off the taps and slowly switch the supply back using the internal stop tap
- Check the pipes again now that they are under pressure and check again for signs of damage or a leak before switching on water heating appliances
- If you discover a leak or burst pipe, call a reputable plumber immediately. See www.watersafe.org.uk for a list of recommended plumbers.