How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

How to avoid frozen and burst pipes

It is always good practice to properly insulate water tanks and lag pipes especially if they are located in loft spaces, garages or pipes located under floor voids, making sure there are no gaps at pipe bends, service valves or fittings. Also check insulation in any properties or property developments likely to be unoccupied for long periods of time especially through the winter months. You can usually find insulation and lagging materials from all good DIY stores or plumbing suppliers.

Locate the mains cold water stopcock

It might be a good idea to fix dripping taps, even a small trickle can sometimes cause a frozen pipe. Don't leave taps dripping or running into the sink, basin or bath as the water may not drain away if the waste pipes below are frozen. Locate your property's main cold water stopcock or valve and make sure it is not jammed or seized and you are able to turn it off with ease if necessary in an emergency. Mains cold water stopcocks or stop taps can be located just outside the property, usually the front of the property / road side, under the kitchen sink or in some older Victorian age properties sometimes located just inside the front door, either above floor level or below. The mains cold water stopcock or valve will always close by turning clockwise.

Isolate any unused water supplies

Turn off any outside water supplies (if possible) ie: garden hose, outside tap, pond feeds. Try and Minimise draughts from outside and close doors and windows to unheated parts of the property. If you have un covered tanks or pipes with no lagging in the roof space, open the loft hatch to allow warm air to circulate through the loft space. Leaving the heating on low when you are away and get a friend or neighbour to check the property regularly. Keep a separate supply of drinking water for emergencies. If a property is going to be unoccupied for long periods, turn off the water at the stopcock and consider draining down the system so there is no water left in the pipes.

If a pipe freezes...

Turn the properties water supply off at the stopcock / stop tap by turning clockwise.
Check to see if any visible pipe has split or burst.
Slowly defrost the pipe with a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the tap then the pipe nearest the tap.
You could also use a hair dryer on the lowest setting, but be careful not to drip water into the end of the hair dryer. Never attempt to use a naked flame or blowtorch or you could end up adding 'call the fire brigade' to the list of things to do.

If a pipe bursts...

Turn the properties water supply off at the stopcock / stop tap by turning clockwise.
Open all the taps to reduce any flooding, especially if the leak is upstairs and you have a tap available downstairs.
Soak up as much of the escaping water with thick towels then call a qualified plumber.


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