A burst pipe can cause misery for homeowners. Here’s how to keep your pipework in good order when outside temperatures drop below freezing point.
Maintaining a temperature of 21C in your main living rooms and 18C in the rest of the house is recommended by experts in terms of both health and reduced heating bills.
But winter temperatures do not just pose a risk to health, they increase the danger of burst pipes and the potential for expensive repairs.
Skip hire broker ProSkips – which has experience of helping customers dispose of furniture and carpets ruined by floodwater – has advice for homeowners.
There are several reasons why individual pipes might freeze, even if the temperature in your home is maintained at a reasonably high level.
In many cases, a pipe will freeze because it hasn’t been sufficiently insulated to protect the copper or lead from the cold, particularly if passes through unheated sections of the house such as utility rooms and garages. Pipes that enter your home through exterior walls may be particularly vulnerable if a crack or hole in the wall allows cold air to enter and attack the pipe.
Even pipes that are placed in cupboards in the house might be vulnerable if the cupboard door stays closed most of the time and prevents warm air from reaching the pipes.
If a pipe becomes cold enough for the water inside it to freeze then there’s every chance a leak could occur because ice expands and causes a build-up of pressure in the pipe, between the spot which is frozen and the closed tap.
Should you discover one of your pipes is frozen, take action to prevent it bursting by placing bottles with hot water or a thick cloth soaked over the offending pipework.
When you begin the thawing process, start at the end of the pipe nearest the tap and work away from it.
But to prevent pipes freezing in the first place, insulate vulnerable areas of your home such as your loft and the sides of any water tanks.
The pipes themselves can also be insulated using foam lagging which is easily available from DIY shops and simply slots onto the pipes.
Another key tactic is to allow the heat within the house to spread to potentially vulnerable areas. On especially cold days, open up the door to your loft and to cupboards under the sink in order to let warmer air enter.
And if you’re going away in the winter it’s vital to set your heating to come on at a low level a couple of times a day in order to prevent the cold taking hold.
Just in case the worst does happen, it’s vital that you know exactly where your stopcock is situated, and that you practice locating it and turning it off quickly in case an emergency situation arises.
Taking these relatively simple steps will undoubtedly reduce the risk of your pipes bursting in winter. However, letting agents in Croydon advise landlords with properties that are empty for more than a few days during a cold snap to check the house or flat regularly to ensure its pipes remain in good shape.