How to protect against frozen pipes

Date published: 1st December 2014

Taking care of your pipes is a job worth doing. Cracked, burst or leaking pipes can cause immeasurable damage and end up costing you a fortune in repairs.

As the cold weather sets in, it becomes even more important to protect your pipes against freezing. Frozen pipes can increase pressure and result in a split pipe or disconnected joints. And these can be a huge headache to fix.

Insulation and lagging

You can opt to insulate your pipes or add lagging to protect them, especially in unheated places such as your loft, on your roof or in outbuildings. If you are not sure which type of insulation or lagging to use, try giving your plumber a call to ask for advice. Alternatively, you can visit a DIY store to ask for their opinion.

Lagging your pipes involves buying foam tubes that are the right size for the pipes in question. So take measurements before you go out to buy lagging. To lag your pipes, wrap the foam tube around and join the tubes where they meet, using strong adhesive tape or cable ties to hold it in place. You can get round corners by cutting your tubes at 45 degree angles.

How to tell if your pipes have frozen

If it’s very cold and your water supply has stopped, it’s likely you have frozen pipes. A good test is to ask your neighbours if their supply has stopped too. If they have water, chances are they have lagged their pipes so it’s not a general supply problem.

If you think your pipes have frozen, it’s important to act quickly.

What to do if the pipes freeze

If your pipes have frozen, it’s important to get them checked out as soon as possible. Frozen pipes can stop the flow of water into your house, but the damage that can be caused is so much worse. You can start the process of thawing your pipes yourself by turning on the tap to let out any thawed water.

Start thawing the pipes at the end closest to the tap. If you start in the middle, steam may get trapped and burst the pipe. You can thaw the pipe by wrapping a hot water bottle in a towel and placing it onto the pipe. Alternatively, you could aim a hairdryer at the pipe to thaw it – but be careful to use a low setting and don’t overheat the pipes. Go slow and steady.

Call out the plumber

If you’re not confident in sorting out frozen pipes, or if you’re worried that the upcoming weather might cause you problems, give your plumber a call and get them to come and check your pipes out. They will be able to make the right recommendations and even help you insulate your pipes to protect them in the future.

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