In case you’ve heard one of many reports suggesting that we’re to, once again, experience a big freeze this winter, you may be interested in taking the necessary precautions to safeguard your home from the weather. One of the most crucial steps, of course, is preventing your plumbing system from freezing up.
With many people leaving their homes during the Christmas holidays to celebrate the festivities with their families, it is important to ensure that steps are taken to prevent pipes from freezing prior to your departure.
Frozen pipes can become a very serious problem, whether you intend to stay within your home or leave it for a period of time. If you are leaving your house empty there is a greater likeliness that your plumbing will freeze, and due to water expansion, crack your pipes, resulting in a leak.
Remaining at home and not taking care of your pipes can lead to a similar fate, but also prevents you from using water whilst you are there. Here are some tips that can prove simple and effective in your battle against the big freeze.
Chances are that if things are cold enough to freeze, it will be cold enough to have the heating on. In the unlikely event that your house radiates heat even in the depths of winter without heating, we still advise you keep your heating on low, just to avoid pipe freeze.
This is essential whether you remain at home for the winter or go on holiday – in fact, if you leave your home empty for any period of time, try and keep the heating on low to battle the oncoming cold.
Where possible, your pipes should be insulated, as this should help to keep them protected against frost. The same applies to the water tank, which should be insulated from the top and the sides, with either an insulation jacket or an alternative insulation material (but avoid using loft insulation beneath the tank – warmth from the house will feed up into the tank and keep the water warmer).
If you intend to leave your home empty for some time, you may consider, rather than leaving the heating on and spending a small fortune on heating bills, contacting a professional plumber who will be able to give you advice or assist you with switching your water system off and draining it until your return to avoid water freezing within the pipes and running the risk of cracked pipes.
Before the cold weather sets in, it is prudent to check all of the pipes you are able to see, especially those which would be particularly exposed to the cold weather, for leaks. Dripping taps and leaky pipes can significantly increase the chances of a freezing pipe so it is sensible to tackle these weaknesses in your plumbing prior to the winter.
In the event that you’re reading this post-freeze, you will be looking for a solution for frozen pipes. The very first thing you must do is to switch off the stop-cock immediately. If you’re unsure about where that might be, it is best to contact a professional plumber.
The next step is to wait and let nature take its course. As the temperature rises the water will slowly defrost – this is obviously not ideal and will be terribly inconvenient, but this is why it is so crucial to avoid frozen pipes in the first place. Well, that and the fact that your pipes could split. Once you think your pipes have defrosted it is important that you get an expert to trace the pipework for cracks, otherwise you may have a leak on your hands come the spring.
Stephen Turner is the Director for one of the leading plumbing companies in the London and Essex area – Aquatek Domestic and Commercial Plumbing and Heating Ltd. Stephen believes that it is important to ensure that your home is prepared for the cold months of winter.