Get ready for winter
There are lots of simple steps you 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 inside stop tap (usually under the kitchen sink) and make sure you can turn it off
- Leave the heating on low if you go away
- Check your central heating boiler has been serviced
There are winter tips and videos from WaterSafe plumbers.
Also keep the name of a plumber handy - type in your postcode at WaterSafe to find your nearest accredited plumbing business.
For further advice and guidance visit the Met Office Get Ready for Winter information pages.
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 you’ll need to get one installed as it’s an insurance requirement to 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’re away for a few days, ask a friend to visit and keep watch for leaks
- If you’re away for longer, 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 leak or burst will not occur until the water has thawed
- Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
- If the central heating and any other water heating appliances are already on, keep on. However, if they are currently turned off do not be tempted to switch them on to thaw frozen pipes as this could cause damage.
- Drain the cold water system only 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. South West Water supports approved contractor schemes and a list of approved contractors can be found on the WaterSafe website www.watersafe.org.uk or by calling 0333 207 9030
How can we help?
Use the FAQ search to quickly find what you are looking for...
If I sell my house after installing a meter, will the new occupier have to pay metered charges?
Yes any new occupier will pay metered charges, even if you’ve reverted to unmetered charges within 24 months of having the meter installed.
How do I get a new water main?
You can apply for a new water main if it will serve 2 or more properties which haven’t previously connected to our network (directly or indirectly) We will ask you (and any other applicants) to pay any difference between our costs in providing the water main and the...
Where can I find plans of pipework in my area?
For location of private pipework in your area contact your local District Council or check your house deeds. If you are a land or property owner you can request an asset plan by emailing Source for Searches. For solicitors/conveyancers looking for a water and drainage...
Can I pay regularly by instalments?
Yes, if you’d find it easier to manage your bill my paying more regularly, we have payment plans available: If you don’t have a meter:Annual bills with payment due on 1 April each year for the year ahead. Payment plan Details Half yearly 2...
What do I need to do about my meter when I move?
On the day that you move, please take a meter reading and let us know online either at My Account, on our move form or we’ll call you back to take the details. Please complete the details in our Arrange a free call back section on the right. If it’s difficult to read...
What do I need to do when I move house?
Let us know you’re moving online or we’ll call you back if you prefer. Please complete the details in our Arrange a free call back section on this page. Metered propertiesIf you’re moving from or into a home with a meter, we’ll need the readings from all the meters on...
How can I let you know if a tenant is moving?
If you’re a landlord renting out a property, you can let us know who is responsible for charges at your property by using the national web portal Landlord TAP. You can use this portal to quickly and easily inform us of: Properties you own or manage Changes of tenancy...
What will the charges be at a house that I’m moving to?
Your Estate or Property Agent should be able to provide you with more details. If the property has a water meter, you'll be charged for the amount of water you use in cubic metres. If not, the charge is based and calculated on the Rateable Value of the property. If...
Where can I find my customer reference number?
Your 10 digit customer reference number can be found at the top of your latest bill.If you can’t find your bill, we can call you back. Please complete the details in our Arrange a free call back section on this page. If you've already registered for My Account and...
Can I get a discount on water that doesn’t drain to the sewer?
Yes, if you are being charged for sewerage that includes surface water drainage and you believe that your surface water doesn’t enter a public sewer, complete our form to apply for a reduction. If you use a large amount of water outside of your home, you may want to...
Why are bills so high in the South West?
In the South West we enjoy miles of open countryside and coastline – and this has an impact on our water and wastewater bills. For example, the cost of the many thousands of miles of pipes we need to get drinking water to everyone in our area, and to take wastewater...
Where is my meter located?
Generally we install meters outside of your home in the footpath or front garden. It will sit within a chamber under a small square or rectangular cover and will usually be labelled with ‘meter’ or ‘water’. You may need to use a tool to scoop out any soil or rain...
How do I read my meter?
Your meter will look similar to the meters in the pictures below; How to read your meter If you have an outside meter, lift the chamber lid using a screwdriver or similar tool. You may need to use a tool to scoop out any soil or rain water that has built up...
How long will it take to install a meter?
We’ll install the meter within 3 months of receiving your meter application. If there is a delay on the installation, we’ll use readings taken after the meter is installed to back-date charges to the date it should have been installed. Sometimes it’s possible to fit the...
Can I go back to unmetered charges if I’ve switched to a meter?
If you don’t think that switching to a meter was of any benefit, you have 2 years from when the meter was installed to go back to unmetered charges. For more information on this and exceptions, please see our Code of Practice on Charges, Bills and Water Meters. If you...
What do I do if I have a leak on my shared supply pipe?
If the leak is occurring on a section of pipe that one person only is responsible for, they will need to arrange for its repair. You can report a leak using our online form or call our leak reporting line on 0800 230 0561. There's information here about leaks on shared...
How do I report a leak on my supply pipe?
You can complete our online leak form or call our Services Helpline 0344 346 2020 It will be your responsibility to repair it and approved plumbers can be found through WaterSafe or on the Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme [WIAPS]. We’ll send you an information...
What do I do if I have a leak inside my house?
You can watch our video to find out where the leak is. If you’ve confirmed a leak inside your house by carrying out a leak check on the meter or can hear or see running water, you’ll need to speak to a plumber to check your internal pipework or fittings. Approved...
How do I know if I have a leak?
If you’re on a meterYou may have received a bill that shows a larger amount of usage than normal which may indicate a leak on your supply pipe. Watch our guide or follow our steps below to find out how to check for a leak. Step 1 – Make sure all your appliances (like...
How much water does an average person use?
The national average annual usage figures have been taken from The Consumer Council for Water and are listed below: Annual water use in Cubic Metres CM3 Number of people living in your home Low use Average use High...
How can I save water?
By taking simple steps like spending one minute less in the shower or turning the tap off while you brush your teeth, can set you on track to start saving water. To help you save water around the home, we’ve teamed up with savewatersavemoney to offer a FREE water-saving...
How do I order a water butt?
You can order a water butt from the specialist savewatersavemoney. By installing a water butt directly to your gutter downpipe, you will collect rainwater from the roof and can then use it for watering plants, topping up a pond or washing your car. On average every year...