There are lots of simple steps households can take to prepare for a cold winter and now is a great time to get ahead and make sure homes are snug:
- Wrap up pipes and water tanks with lagging - DIY stores have everything you need
- Fix dripping taps - even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe
- Find your home's stop tap and make sure you can turn it off - most are under the kitchen sink
- Leave the heating on low if you go away
- Check your central heating boiler has been serviced
Winter tips and videos from WaterSafe plumbers can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk/winter. Also keep the name of a plumber handy - type in your postcode at watersafe.org.uk to find your nearest accredited plumbing business.
For further advise and guidance why not read our blog: It's time to Get Ready for 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.