Wondering How to Prevent Frozen Pipes?
The coldest temperatures for the UK tend to hit from the end of December through to February. During this period, it’s not unusual for the temperatures to dip below 0°C, which is the point at which water freezes. Once the freeze begins, water starts to expand, and that’s the danger zone for your household pipes.
Burst pipes are the last thing you need in the depths of winter, so now’s the time to put some protection in place. The Simply Plumbing team often gets asked how to prevent frozen pipes. We’re happy to oblige with 5 simple steps you can take right now to avoid any nasty surprises.
1. Keep Your Heating On Low
Planning a few days away from the winter weather? Resist the temptation to turn off your heating as you swing your suitcases out of the front door. Forget the argument that you’re saving money on your bills (we have tips for alternative ways to do this). Set your thermostat at 12-15°C to avoid an unhappy homecoming.
2. Insulate Your Pipes and Water Tank
This is a fairly simple task, using pre-formed sponge insulation to cover your pipes. If you have a water tank in the loft, where temperatures are likely to be lower that the rest of the house, wrap the tank in insulating material.
3. Let Warmth Circulate
If the temperatures drop steeply, use your home heating to stop pipes from freezing. Simply open up the area under the sink to allow heat to circulate there. Do the same with your lift trap or door. So long as the temperature is kept above freezing, your pipes should be OK.
4. Run Your Taps Regularly
It’s more difficult for running water to freeze, so keep the water in your pipes moving by turning on the faucet at regular intervals. You may even want to allow the taps to run continually by keeping the faucet open a tiny way.
5. Seal Up Gaps
We’re not particularly good at insulation in the UK. We put up with all kinds of gaps and holes that let freezing air in. If you know there’s a leak around wiring, cabling, pipes or vents, seal it up. There’ll be less risk of pipes freezing and your home will be warmer, too.
What Should I Do If My Pipes Freeze or Burst?
If you have a burst pipe, turn off the water at your stop cock and call a plumber straight away. If your pipes are frozen, it may be possible to defrost them yourself. Start by turning on your heating; the circulation of warm air can sometimes be enough to solve the problem.
If it’s just one of your taps that isn’t working, try to isolate the area that is frozen. You may be able to thaw it out by wrapping the pipe in a warm cloth or directing warm air at it. If all the taps appear to be affected, you should call a plumber to diagnose the problem.