Wrap up warm for winter
The last thing you need to add more misery to a really cold snap is burst pipes. They're costly to put right, not to mention the mess and the hassle! Read our tops tips for protecting your home and
getting your water running if your pipes freeze.
Download our frost protection step by step guide
Protecting your pipes
Wrap up warm
We all need to get cosy and add some extra layers for the winter weather and so do our pipes. Wrap all pipework, cisterns and tanks in unheated areas like lofts, roofs, outbuildings and garages with insulation. Use good quality waterproof foam lagging that meets the requirements of British Standard 6700 and Water Supply Regulations - you can usually get it at your local DIY store or plumbers merchants.
Keep the heat on
Keep your home heated during a very cold snap - set your timer to constant or 24 hours and use your thermostat to maintain some warmth through the night and while you're out.
Get to know your stop taps
Find and label all stop taps and valves - you'll need to turn them off quickly if there's a burst. Check regularly that they're working. The main stop tap is often found under the kitchen sink.
Your stop tap is usually found under your kitchen sink or in the garage.
How to defrost your frozen pipes
Follow our simple step by step guide to defrost your frozen pipes and then protect them from frost.
Even the best insulation won't stop pipes from freezing when frosty conditions won't let up. So during a really frosty period isolate and drain down external pipework, outside taps, and exposed plumbing.
Dealing with frozen pipes
Don't panic - just follow these steps to minimise damage and get everything back to normal:
Ask a neighbour
If you find you've got no water it's worth checking with your neighbours first to see if they're experiencing the same problem as there might be an incident such as a burst water pipe that has affected water supplies in your area. You can also
check our postcode lookup to see if there are any incidents where you live.
Damage to pipes occurs when they become frozen, but you're only going to notice when the water in the pipe thaws. So, if a pipe is frozen isolate the affected area by closing your stoptap.
When your pipes begin to thaw, run your taps into sink basins and baths to drain the plumbing system. This should reduce damage caused by water escaping from a burst pipe.
After freezing has occurred in pipes there's a risk of a burst if heat is applied suddenly. Don't switch on water heating appliances including boilers and immersion heaters until you're sure the system has thawed out. Reheat the building using gas, solid fuel or electric heaters that are unconnected with the plumbing or central heating system. Don't try to thaw pipes using a naked flame. A hairdryer can be used to direct heat onto frozen pipes, but take care, the pipe may burst as it thaws and spray water. Thaw the pipe at the end nearest the tap first.
Resuming normal service
Once the plumbing has thawed and there's no leaks, stop running the taps and slowly open the stoptap. Check the plumbing system for leaks once it's under pressure and, only when you're satisfied all systems are thawed, switch on water heating appliances. If you notice a leak, isolate the affected pipe by closing the stoptap, then call a plumber. If you want to find an approved plumber, use the
Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering's website.
What to do if your pipes burst and you have no water
Follow our simple steps to protect your home and posessions and see what to do if you have no water.
Advice for thawing or burst pipes