Get ready for winter

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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

  1. 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.
  2. Check existing insulation and replace areas showing wear and tear
  3. Fully lag all pipes if possible but especially those in unheated areas such as lofts, garages or gardens
  4. Get advice about insulation thickness from the experts at a DIY store
  5. Isolate and drain outside taps
  6. On very cold days, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate and prevent pipes from freezing
  7. If you’re away for a few days, ask a friend to visit and keep watch for leaks
  8. If you’re away for longer, leave your central heating on a low setting
  9. Cold water tanks should be insulated on all sides but not underneath to allow warm air to circulate
  10. Keep the contact details of a reputable plumber to hand.

What to do if you discover a problem

  1. If you don't have any water check with neighbours. If they still have water, your pipes may be frozen
  2. Check pipes for signs of a split - a leak or burst will not occur until the water has thawed
  3. Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
  4. 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.
  5. Drain the cold water system only by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks and baths
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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

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