Let it Flow – Three Essential Steps if You Have a FROZEN Water Pipe

UK plumbing register WaterSafe is sharing advice with property-owners on dealing with frozen water pipes – as well as how to prevent them in the first place.

As temperatures are set to fall heading in to February, insulating exposed pipes now will help prevent leaks and the costly damage that can result from pipework freezing and bursting this winter. 

However, if a pipe freezes, make sure to follow our trio of top tips:

  • Turn off the water supply coming in to your property at the stop tap.
  • Open all your taps to drain the system as quickly as possible, saving some water in a bucket, if you can, for flushing toilets and hand washing. When the water stops running, turn all the taps off.
  • Slowly thaw the pipe with towels soaked in hot water or hot water bottles – never use a naked flame or blowtorch to thaw the pipe. If you need help, contact an approved plumber via our post code search.

WaterSafe’s latest survey of UK property-owners* reveals that 53% of homeowners don’t check that they know where their internal stop tap is, in case they need to turn off their water in an emergency.

The main internal stop tap is usually located under the kitchen sink, but can also be found in downstairs bathrooms, kitchen cupboards, garages, cellars and under the stairs.

It’s a good idea to regularly check that the stop tap is working and that it shuts your water supply off – but make sure to never force it. Turning the valve clockwise will close it, reducing or stopping the amount of water passing through your pipes.

To avoid pipes freezing in the first place, insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as lofts, roofs, garages and outbuildings, with inexpensive ‘lagging’, which is available from DIY stores. This is especially important for boiler condensate pipes, which run from a boiler to the outside of a building, normally to a drain.

Ensure there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings, and don’t forget to insulate your hot water tank and pipes too.

Reducing heat loss means spending less money on energy bills, as a third of the gas and electricity used in homes goes on heating your water for washing, cooking and cleaning – something to consider as energy costs increase.

It’s also important to repair leaky taps and valves to prevent frost damage and to save water too.

Call a WaterSafe approved plumber, who is qualified to install and maintain the plumbing system in your home, if you need help this winter with frozen pipes, locating your stop tap, insulating your pipes or fixing leaks.

WaterSafe’s advice supports the Met Office’s ‘WeatherReady’ campaign, which encourages everyone to think about what they can do to prepare for and cope with severe weather.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “Making sure exposed pipes are wrapped up and protected from winter weather should be on everyone’s New Year’s resolutions list.

“Having the phone number of a qualified, approved plumber to hand in case of emergencies is also a good idea. Our survey showed that just over a quarter of UK homeowners (26%) do this though – so we’re encouraging everyone to check the WaterSafe database to find your nearest.”

For lots more winter advice and to find a qualified, approved plumber, visit watersafe.org.uk/winter.

Find out more about the #WeatherReady campaign, which is run by the Met Office in partnership with the Cabinet Office, at www.metoffice.gov.uk/weatherready.

*WaterSafe interviewed 2,000 UK homeowners in November 2021.

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