• Danni Greenough

Frozen Pipes: What To Do

Frozen pipes are probably one of the most common home emergencies during the winter period. Excessively cold and harsh winters can cause the water supply to the property to freeze, leaving you without water, and the expansion of the ice can also put pressure on your pipes causing them to crack or burst. When the water then thaws it can cause catastrophic damage and flooding. Pipes on your property are your responsibility, but those that are outside your property boundary belong to the water company so call them if you suspect there may be a problem.

Signs you have frozen pipes:

- Pipes appear icy or wet

- Little or no water coming out from the taps

- Strange noises coming from your system when you use the toilet

If you think you may have frozen pipes the best thing to do is call a professional first. But there are a few ways you can try to sort it yourself before calling them in.

How to prevent freezing:

- Pipe and water tank insulation is the best preventative and the rule is the thinner the pipe the thicker the insulation needs to be as these are more susceptible. Make sure there are no gaps in the insulation, especially at joins and bends.

- Keep your home warm even when you are not in. Set it on a timer to come on every few hours so there is constant warm water coming through minimising the risk of freezing. (Consider a smart home product - they are controlled by an app on your phone wherever you are, so you're always aware of the temperature and can adjust it if necessary.)

- Fix any dripping taps - it's a myth that leaving a small trickle of water will prevent freezing.

- If you are leaving the property for a long period of time, turn the water off and consider draining the system down.

- Reducing draught circulation by ensuring your doors and windows are kept closed whenever possible during cold months, and check seals and gaps.

How to thaw pipes:

- Turn off your water via the stopcock.

- Thaw pipes slowly by using hot water bottles or hot towels, working from the tap back along the pipe. If you want to use a hair dryer, make sure it is on the lowest setting. (Do not use high heats such as a blow torch or a naked flame as this could cause more damage.)

How to deal with burst pipes:

- Call a qualified plumber!

- Turn off your water via the stopcock.

- Turn on all the taps to prevent flooding and use thick towels to absorb any water leaking from joints or cracks.

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