Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Winter Advice 1 - Avoiding Frozen Pipes

The damage caused by flooding from burst pipes can be considerable.

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.

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 a plumber.
  • Don’t forget to turn off taps once the problem is fixed to avoid further flooding.

NI Water has produced a series of informational videos that can be seen online which go over some of the advice above.

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.
  • Those in receipt of Housing Benefit, or on Low Incomes, may be eligible for the “Warm-Homes” scheme for Insulation and Heating Improvements, visit their website or ring 0800 988 0559 for more information, and to see if you are entitled.