There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your pipes from freezing:
· Leave the central heating on for short periods of time throughout the day.
· Let warm air into your roof space by keeping the trap door open.
· Keep the cupboard door under the sink open. This will let warm air move around the pipes.
· Keep room doors slightly open to allow the warm air to move around the house.
· If you are going to be away from your house while the weather is cold ask a friend or neighbour to check the house and keep the heating on.
· Know where your Stopcock is located.
· Most frozen pipes are found in the roof space and below sink units.
Know the location of your Stopcock (also known as a Stop Valve, or Stop Tap)
· Find your internal Stopcock. It is usually, but not always, located under your kitchen sink and normally closes by turning clockwise. You may want to test it is working.
· NI Water has produced a bright tag for customers to loop around the Stopcock in their premises. This will ensure they are aware of the location of their Stopcock and it will be easily identifiable in the event of a burst pipe. Tags are available free to customers by phoning NI Water on 08457 440088 or visiting the NI Water Website.
· Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit. However in some houses the Stopcock is found in a front or back hall or in a larder unit beside the sink unit.
· It is important that you know where the Stopcock is and that you check that your Stopcock is working.
· If you cannot find the Stopcock you can call us and make an appointment for a maintenance officer to visit your house and show you where it is.
Avoiding Frozen Pipes
· Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of your property are kept closed and minimise any draughts from outside.
· If you have tanks or pipes in the roof space, allow some warm air to circulate by opening the trap door.
· Leave the heating on low when you are away.
· Leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member who can check the house regularly.
· If a property is not in use or occupied for a prolonged period of time it is advisable to turn the water supply off at the Stopcock and even consider draining down the system to lessen the possibility of burst pipes going undetected causing property damage and the waste of water.
How to drain your cold water tank
· Make sure the mains water is turned off at the Stopcock.
· Turn on all the cold water taps and flush the toilet several times. This will empty the cold water storage tank and stop the flow of water.
· If you have an open fire burning you should let it burn out and do not light it again until the burst pipe has been fixed.
· Turn off oil or gas heating systems and do not use again until they have been checked.
· Do not use the water heater as this may cause the hot cylinder to collapse.
· Do not turn on the water supply at the Stopcock until the burst pipe has been repaired.
· If the water has come into contact with electrical fittings the electricity should be turned off at the mains.
· If you are going to be away from your home for more than a day or two during cold weather you should drain down the cold water system as described above.
Dealing with Frozen Pipes
· Turn off the water supply at the Stopcock.
· Thaw along the pipe, starting from the end nearest the tap.
· Don’t use a blow lamp or naked flame.
· Put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe or use a hair dryer at its lowest setting to thaw pipes. Be careful not to warm them too quickly.
· Don’t leave taps dripping or running. The water may not flush down the plug hole if the pipes below are frozen.
If a pipe bursts
· Turn off the Stopcock.
· Try to block escaping water with thick cloth like towels.
· Turn on all taps to reduce flooding.
· Contact the authorised plumber.
· Don’t forget to turn off taps once the problem is fixed to avoid further flooding.
More substantial frost prevention measures (check now, BEFORE the freeze comes)
· Check that there is Insulation on water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces, garages and outbuildings.
· Insulation is essential in helping to prevent water in pipes from freezing. It is also important to ensure there are no gaps in the insulation at bends, valves or fittings.
· It should be noted that even with lagging, extreme weather conditions can result in water in pipes freezing. Without lagging however the potential for this to happen is greatly increased.
· If any action is required, contact our office to arrange for a Maintenance Officer to inspect, and improve existing pipe work lagging.
· Those in receipt of Housing Benefit, or on Low Incomes, may be eligible for the “Warm-Homes” scheme for Insulation and Heating Improvements, visit www.warm-homes.com or ring 0800 988 0559 for more information, and to see if you are entitled.
A Barton Company accept no liability for any damage caused by following any of the advice above, which is provided for guidance only. Individual circumstances and properties will determine the best course of action in an emergency, and if unsure, it is best to contact the authorised plumber or electrician.
Some simple preventative steps, as outlined above, can decrease the risk of frozen pipes, flooding, broken heating, condensation issues and misery this winter for you, your family and your landlord.
The best advice, as always, is to keep safe and look after yourself, and your property, this winter.