With weather warnings across the region in place for snow and ice this week, South West Water is reminding customers of the importance of protecting your water pipes to prevent bursts.
When temperatures drop and water freezes and turns into ice it expands by nearly 10%, which stops the flow of water through pipes. This can cause even new pipes to split, often resulting in leaks and bursts causing flooding and damage.
Mark Hillson, South West Water’s Drinking Water Services Director, said: “We experienced a high number of burst water mains, both on our assets and customer properties, when temperatures hit -6 degrees last month. With more Met Office warnings for snow and ice in place this week, we are urging customers to take action and follow some of our top tips to help protect pipes and prepare homes for the cold weather.”
South West Water’s teams are working around the clock to find and fix more leaks than ever before, up to 2,500 a month. With around 30% of leaks now typically found on customers’ own properties, it is vital that customers ensure they have measures in place to prevent frozen pipes.
South West Water’s top tips to prepare your home for cold weather:
– wrap up your pipes and water tanks with lagging – especially those in unheated areas such as lofts, garages or gardens
– fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe
find your inside stop tap (usually under the kitchen sink or where the pipework enters your property) and make sure you can turn it off
– leave the heating on low if you go away
– check your central heating boiler has been serviced
– keep the contact details of a reputable plumber to hand.
What to do if you have frozen pipes:
– If you don’t have any water check with neighbours. If they still have water, your pipes may be frozen
Check pipes for signs of a split – a leak or burst will not occur until the water has thawed
Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
– If the central heating and any other water heating appliances are already on, keep on. However, if they are currently turned off do not be tempted to switch them on to thaw frozen pipes as this could cause damage
– Drain the cold water system only by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks and baths
If you don’t find any damage, turn on all the taps and thaw the frozen pipe using a warm towel or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel
– When the pipes have thawed and you’re sure no damage or leak has occurred, turn off the taps and slowly switch the supply back using the internal stop tap
– Check the pipes again now that they are under pressure and check again for signs of damage or a leak before switching on water heating appliances.
If you discover a leak or burst pipe, call a reputable plumber immediately. South West Water supports approved contractor schemes and a list of approved contractors can be found on the WaterSafe website or by calling 0333 207 9030.
It’s important to know that any big freeze is followed by a thaw which can cause interruptions to your water supply. Would you be able to access an alternative water supply during a disruption? If not, get in touch and sign up to our Priority Services Register at www.southwestwater.co.uk/priorityservices
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