The latest snap of cold weather may be on its way out but over the coming months we could well be in for more snow and ice.
With freezing temperatures comes the risk of burst pipes – here are seven suggestions for avoiding a disaster this winter.
1. Many of today’s boilers have a frost protection setting – leave this on to automatically prevent the water in your pipes from freezing.
2. We are all doing the best we can to reduce our energy use at the moment, but it is important to stay warm and have the heating on at least some of the time when it’s very cold. Try not to leave your heating off for long periods of time for your own wellbeing and also for the good of your pipes. Even if you go away, try to leave the heating on low for short spells using a timer – even for just an hour or two every day.
3. If you are going to be away for a while, then turn the water off. Run all the water out of all the taps and showers and leave them open. Flush toilets until cisterns are empty. When you return, turn the water back on but make sure shower enclosures are closed.
4. Consider having a leak-detection device fitted. This should detect if there’s a sudden rise in your water usage. It will cut off your supply if this happens and hopefully limit damage.
5. Keep checking for leaks. When temperatures plummet, do regular rounds of the house, inside and out, under sinks and behind removal panels, to examine your pipes.
6. Only run dishwashers and washing machines when you are in. This way you will spot leaks quickly.
7. If you are a homeowner then try to lag as many pipes as possible. This can be done with material from a DIY store. If you are a tenant, discuss this with your landlord or agent.
If a pipe freezes, don’t pour boiling water on it or try to warm it with a hairdryer or flame – this is dangerous and might cause it to crack. Wrap the pipe in a towel then turn the water supply and the heating off. Open the tap nearest the pipe and let it drain out. Leave it open so the melting water has somewhere to run. If there is a thaw, then wait for the ice to melt. If the freezing temperatures are likely to continue, then call your plumber.