Cold weather can have a BIG impact on your home and cause your water pipes to burst or freeze. Follow Percy the penguin's five easy steps to avoid any unnecessary stress and expense this winter...
#1 Pipes – wrap 'em up!
Protecting your pipes may seem like a dull and unnecessary job, but it really is essential to prepare your home to prevent bursts.
We recommend covering all of your water pipes – including those outside your home – with a foam tube called lagging. It's cheap, easy to fit and available from most DIY stores for about £3. Just remember to use waterproof lagging for any outdoor pipes.
#2 Keep your home nice and toasty
If you can, try to keep your home snug at all times. Try putting draught excluders on doors or a thin sheet of card with tinfoil behind your radiator (this will reflect heat back into your room, meaning it warms up faster and retains more heat).
We also recommend you keep your heating on low, even when you’re out of the house or holiday, to help keep your home warm and prevent pipes from freezing.
#3 Bleed your radiators
Trapped air causes radiators to have cold spots, reducing their efficiency. You can bleed your radiators yourself using a radiator key or a flat screwdriver (depending on your valve type) and slowly turning the valve counter clockwise until water starts dripping out. This will release trapped air and let hot water in – giving you a warmer home and cheaper energy bills.
#4 Be prepared
Make sure you know where your stop tap is (most are under the kitchen sink or in the cupboard under the stairs), as you may need to turn your water off quickly if your pipes freeze or burst. It's also a good idea to have the name and number of a qualified plumber to hand so if your pipes do freeze or burst you can call them straight away.
#5 Service your boiler
We know you've got other important things on your mind, but it's really important to get your boiler serviced regularly if you can. We recommend you do this about once a year. Lots of modern boilers also have a frost setting, which is great for preventing frozen pipes when your central heating is not in full use.
If your pipes have burst
- Turn off the stop tap
- Open all taps to drain the system quickly
- Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
- Call a qualified plumber. To find your nearest WaterSafe accredited plumber visit watersafe.org.uk
- If water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains
- Turn off taps once the pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding
If your pipes have frozen
- Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
- Slowly thaw the pipe with a warm towel (we recommend using your tumble dryer or soaking them in warm water), starting at the end nearest to the tap. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch
Help for priority customers
Please let us know if you or someone you know could be vulnerable without water and requires extra assistance.
Registering for our free Priority Services means we'll be able to provide any additional support needed, and respond quickly to any queries.
It's easy to register online for Priority Services. Call our dedicated Customer Care Team on 0333 000 2468 or apply online by clicking the button below. All of our advisors are specially trained to offer confidential advice and support. Lines are open Monday to Friday between 8am - 7pm, and Saturdays between 8am and 1pm.
From health to heating – where to find other useful information
Wrapping up for winter isn’t just about your pipework – it’s also about making sure you and your family are ready for cold weather.
From tips on driving during a cold snap to finding out about benefits and allowances you may be able to claim, there’s plenty of useful tips and links to organisations which can help you at www.metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/advice.