The Met Office is warning that next week will bring much lower temperatures, so now is the perfect time to be thinking about getting your home ready for winter. Severn Trent deals with thousands of burst pipes every year and is offering advice for homeowners for avoiding damaged pipes and floods in the home.
Malcolm Whittaker, who has over 30years of experience repairing leaks for Severn Trent explains why it’s important for customers to understand how they can look after their own pipework: “Colder weather can wreak havoc on household water pipes and many of our customers may not realise that Severn Trent is only responsible for the water mains and service pipes in the public highway. Anything inside the property boundary is the responsibility of the homeowner.
“When water freezes within a pipe it expands, putting more pressure on the pipes and joints, often causing pipes to split or joints to pull apart. Taking steps now to make sure the pipework leading to your home and within your property is protected can help avoid problems with frozen pipes once the temperatures drop. I’ve got a few top tips to help our customers make sure they’re well prepared for the cold weather ahead.”
Malcolm’s top tips for protecting your household pipes against the frost:
- Wrap all pipework, fittings and storage tanks in unheated areas of your home (such as lofts, roofs, outbuildings and garages) with insulation. It’s very important that there are no gaps in the insulation, even where the pipes bend, to make sure the cold is kept out.
- It’s best to use good quality waterproof foam lagging which can be found at your local DIY store.
- If you have outside taps, either insulate them or drain them down to the pipework that links to the tap.
- Don’t worry too much about the underground water pipes that lead to your home - they should be buried deep enough to protect them from the frost.
- If you’re concerned about your own DIY abilities, a registered plumber can check your household pipes to make sure they’re properly lagged and fill in any gaps. Severn Trent supports WaterSafe who have a list of approved plumbers on their website at watersafe.org.uk.
- As temperatures drop, it’s worth making sure your heating comes on at regular intervals, even if you’re out, to maintain some warmth around your property. If you’re going to be away from home for a few days then it’s best to turn off your water at the stop tap so that if a pipe does freeze or burst while you’re away any damage will be limited.
- Make sure that you and other members of your household know where your stop tap is so that it can be reached quickly in an emergency, and most importantly, check that it’s working properly. Stop taps are usually found under the kitchen sink, in the garage or in a ground floor utility room or bathroom, near to where the water supply pipe first enters your home. A stop tap isn’t used very often and finding that it’s stuck or broken when you’ve had a burst will only make the problem worse. More information and a ‘how to’ video is available at www.stwater.co.uk/winter.
- If you do have a problem with your water supply this winter, with either low pressure or no water coming out of your taps, first check to see if your neighbours are having similar trouble. This will help you to work out if the issue is on Severn Trent’s network or on your own supply pipe. If your neighbours’ water supply is normal it’s likely that you’ll need to call a plumber. If more than one household is affected you’ll need to get in touch with Severn Trent – either through their website at stwater.co.uk or on their 24 hour emergency number - 0800 783 4444.