Households urged to prepare their home for winter’s late arrival

13 January 2016

As temperatures fall across the country, households are being warned by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) to prepare their home’s pipes for winter’s late arrival.

The water watchdog is concerned many households may not have taken steps to protect their pipework from freezing weather after the mildest December on record.

More than half of households in England and Wales admitted to not protecting their pipes from freezing last winter2 – increasing the risk of a burst pipe and being landed with an average insurance claim of £6,500 to £7,500 to clear up the mess.3

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “The heavy rain and storms have already caused dreadful damage but the cold weather presents different dangers.

“A frozen pipe can burst and very quickly cause serious damage to your home along with miserable disruption. That’s why we’d urge people to take action now so they don’t pay a heavy price later.”

Even if you live in a rented property it’s worth investigating whether they have been lagged by the landlord, as a burst pipe could end up wrecking your possessions.

Here are our six simple steps to reduce the risk of a pipe freezing:

Act now:
# Get your pipes and water tanks insulated – visit your local DIY store or shop on line for a variety of products, such as lagging, that can help.
# 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. You can check the WaterSafe website for a list of registered plumbers.
# If you go away for a few days, leave your heating on low and set it to come on at least once every day.

And here’s what to do if you think your home has a frozen pipe:
• 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.
• 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.

For more information call the CCWater media team on 0121 345 1005.

1 WaterSafe is a central register supported by all UK water companies and the seven Approved Contractors’ Schemes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All recognised plumbers have specific training in Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws, which helps prevent the risk of contamination of drinking water.
2 Taken from CCWater’s Water Matters 2014 research
3 Figures taken from the Association of British Insurers.

The Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) – ‘The independent voice of water customers’.
Who are we?
• CCWater was established in 2005 to provide strong representation for water customers in England and Wales.
• We are a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Welsh Government.
• We are independent of water companies and regulators.

What have we achieved for water customers?
• Ensured that average household water & sewerage bills will fall by 5 per cent by 2020, before inflation is added, by putting customers at the heart of the 2014 Price Review.
• Helped over 300,000 customers with complaints or enquiries about their water and sewerage services and secured over £20 million in compensation and rebates since 2005.
• Overseen a 60 per cent reduction in customer complaints since their peak in 2007/08 through challenging water companies to get more things ‘right first time.’
• Achieved all of this and more at an annual cost of just 21p per water customer.

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