Top ten tips for 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 have frozen pipes?
With the drop in temperatures you might experience interruption to your supply. Identify if the problem is in your house - if the leak or burst is on your own pipes, the best thing to do is call a plumber. However if you and your neighbours are out of water or losing pressure, that could be a sign of a burst or leaking mains pipe and we need to hear about it to start helping you.
- 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.
What to do if you have a leak in your house?
Discovering a leak on your property can be stressful, so it’s important you’re familiar with what to do before it happens.
- Check you have a leak by identifying the location. Check for wet areas, noises from your plumbing system or low water pressure. You can also check your water meter if you have one by turning all appliances off and taking two meter readings an hour apart.
- Act fast and turn off supply using the internal stop tap.
- Call a reputable plumber or your insurer immediately. A list of approved contractors can be found on the WaterSafe website www.watersafe.org.uk or by calling 0333 207 9030.
- Inform South West Water by calling our Services Helpline on 0344 346 2020 for help and advice and to find out whether you qualify for a contribution or bill allowance as a result of the leak.
Need a bit of extra help?
If you, or someone in your house, has a medical condition that requires constant access to a supply of water, or you would find it difficult to reach an alternative supply during an interruption to the mains supply then sign up to our Priority Services Register. Our Priority Services are free for anyone in the region, you don’t need to be the bill payer to register.
Your gas and electricity provider also offer priority assistance, you’ll need to contact them directly to sign up for their Priority Services.