Have your water pipes got their winter woolies on?

07 December 2012

According to research up to half of us still don′t have our water pipes protected against the cold weather, and many more of us aren′t sure how to deal with things if we do have a problem.

Young people aged between 24 and 35 appear to be most at risk and water watchdog, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), is urging people to make those all important last minute preparations for the freezing weather.

Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of CCWater, said, "We have seen recent images in the media of the damage and devastation water can cause to our homes. Lagging your pipes now could avoid a burst pipe later. And knowing what action to take should your pipes freeze could save you thousands of pounds and a lot of trouble."

Don’t wait for a big freeze – act now. Every winter families all over the UK suffer from the effects of pipes bursting and water pouring through their homes as a result. Problems in our homes are our responsibility – so it’s worth taking some time to check you’re covered. Even if your home is rented it’s still worth checking as a burst pipe could damage your belongings and cause inconvenience. Water companies are working hard to raise awareness and are doing a variety of things from sending out leaflets and hosting road shows to giving away lagging kits.

By following a few simple steps now you could keep the water flowing where it should be this winter.

What to do now:

# Get your pipes and water tanks insulated – visit your local DIY store or shop on line for a variety of products that can help.
# Wrap bends or hard-to-get-at pipes with securely fixed strips of insulation.
# Find your stop tap – being able to turn the water off quickly could save a lot of damage.
# Insulate outside taps or turn them off at the stop tap and drain the water from them.
# Fix any dripping taps or overflows. A build-up of ice can cause a blockage.
# Get contact details of a good plumber – if you do have a problem you will want a professional on hand as quickly as possible.
# On very cold days, open the hatch to your loft to let warm air in from other parts of the house and prevent pipes from freezing.
# If you go away for a few days, leave your heating on low and set it to come on at least once every day.

What to do if you do have a problem:

• Find your stop tap and turn it off.
• Make sure any nearby cold taps are turned on, to allow the water to escape when it thaws.
• Don′t turn hot taps on until the central heating is switched off.
• Do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts when the water thaws.
• Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing.
• If you can identify which pipe is frozen apply a hot water bottle or hot wet towel.
• If you notice a leak once the water has thawed and pressure in the pipe has built up again, turn off the stop tap and call a plumber.
• If you are unsure of anything at any time call a certified plumber.

There’s lots more information and other useful advice and links to your water company on CCWater’s website www.ccwater.org.uk.

The Consumer Council for Water:
• Was set up in October 2005 to represent consumers in England and Wales.
• Costs each water customer an average of 21p per year.
• Gained £285 million from water companies in reduced prices and extra investments.
• Has taken up over 100,000 consumer complaints about water and sewerage companies.
• Has to date secured over £15 million in compensation and rebates for customers.
• Is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Government.
• Has a committee for Wales, and four regional committees in England.
• Website - www.ccwater.org.uk.

For public enquiries to the Consumer Council for Water, please contact via email on enquiries@ccwater.org.uk, via phone on 0845 039 2837, or via text phone on 0121 345 1000.

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