No matter what the time of year, it’s a good time to maintain your home. Even if there’s no sign of snow, preparing your home plumbing for a cold snap could pay dividends if the weather unexpectedly turns.
Burst pipes are one of the biggest risks in winter. Not only do they cause loss of supply, and inconvenience for the family, but the water damage that results from a burst pipe could cost thousands of pounds to repair. That’s before you get into the emotional distress of having a water leak decimate your home and your belongings.
What Causes Burst Pipes?
A burst pipe is generally the result of a weak point in the plumbing which is made worse due to pressure. This could be the pressure of water building up, or the pressure of ice forming. As water turns to ice, it expands, which is why bare pipes containing cold water can be dangerous around the home.
Before you start to explore preventative measures, familiarise yourself with the location of the stopcock -- the main tap in the pipe that comes into your house from the street. If you have a leak from a burst pipe, being able to quickly turn off the stopcock could save you huge amounts of time and money, since it could prevent a small flood from becoming a disaster. In the middle of the night, or the dead of winter, you might find it difficult to locate the stopcock if you’re not sure where to look.
How to Prevent Burst Pipes in Your Home
Cladding is the number one preventative measure that can be employed around the home to keep pipes warm. If you prevent pipes from freezing, you are well on your way to avoiding the pressure of an ice buildup inside.
Running pipes through rooms, open to the warm air of the home, is also a good way to prevent ice buildup. It keeps the ambient temperature above freezing so that the pipes don’t burst when the water inside cools too far.
If you have an outside tap, it’ll be vulnerable to freezing. So it’s a good idea to shut off the supply to the tap in winter, but ensure that the tap itself is left open. That way, any residual water or dampness will be able to drip away of its own accord, rather than being allowed to build up.
If you leave your home unattended, never turn the heating completely off. Some central heating systems have a setting to maintain a certain amount of warmth. If yours doesn’t, setting it on the lowest possible heat is a good idea to prevent freezing. You may wish to leave all of the doors open, including the doors to your attic space, so that the air can circulate and prevent cold pockets from forming.
If you’ve never reviewed the quality of the plumbing around your home, it’s a good idea to invest time over the warmer months. Check the depth of any pipes underground, ensure that lagging is present and of a good quality, and inspect the pipes for any signs of loose joints or weakness.
*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.