What should I do if I have frozen pipes?

Date published: 3rd January 2014

It’s certainly getting chilly out there and if there’s one thing we see a lot of during the Devon winter, it’s frozen pipes. If the water in your pipes freeze, it may expand and put pressure on your pipes, possibly causing them to burst.

Follow our simple steps to deal with frozen pipes and limit the damage that they can cause.

Turn the water off

Start by turning the water supply off. The stop tap will usually be located somewhere on the ground floor of your property. It’s most likely to be found underneath your kitchen sink or perhaps in the meter box outside your property.

If you can’t find the stop tap, try calling your local plumber for assistance. They will probably be able to help you find the stop tap or,if necessary, come round to help you deal with the problem.

Reduce the threat of damage

Next, turn on all the cold taps nearby so that when the water starts to thaw, it has somewhere to escape and won’t cause undue pressure on the pipes. When you’ve done this, check all visible pipes for any signs of damage.

Also, check around the pipes to make sure there’s nothing that could be damaged should the pipe burst such as soft furnishings. If there is, either protect it with towels or remove it if possible.

Thaw the pipe

In order to thaw frozen pipes, try aiming a hairdryer at it if you have a plug socket available nearby. Use the lowest setting to use a gentle heat rather than blasting it too quickly. Alternatively, you can fill out a hot water bottle, wrap it in a thin towel and place it over the pipe.

When you’re warming the pipe, start at the end nearest to the tap and take your time. Thawing the pipes too quickly could cause them to burst so you may need to spend a few hours on this task – be patient.

Check for leaks

When you have thawed your pipes, have a good look for any leaks before you turn the water supply back on. Keep the water running and continue to do so until everything looks like it’s back to normal.

It’s important to make sure that the system is working normally before you turn on any heating appliances.

What if the pipe bursts?

If you’ve suffered a burst pipe, the best thing to do is turn off the water supply and your central heating and contact your plumber in Plymouth for assistance. Also, drain your cold taps to ensure they are empty once you’ve turned the water off.

A burst pipe is something of an emergency and if you can’t get help straight away, you need to turn off anything electrical located near to the burst pipe. For complete safety, turn off all the electrics if possible.

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