Pipe dream – stop the big freeze happening in your home

Winter’s here and as temperatures drop, the water pipes in your home are more likely to freeze. This could leave you without heating and water until the problem is fixed. But there are things that you can do to stop this happening. Check out our handy tips so that you’re not left out in the cold this winter.

Tip one

Don’t turn your heating off if you go away, even for one day. Instead, turn the thermostat down to 6 degrees. This will keep your pipes above freezing point without costing you too much.

Tip two

In freezing weather the main cause for boiler breakdown is a frozen condensate pipe. This is a white plastic pipe running from the boiler directly outside. Keep an eye on the pipe, and if you see ice building up, pour hot (not boiling) water on it. If your boiler has already shut down, once the pipe has thawed out, switch it off at the wall and then back on again. It should fire up but if it doesn’t, contact us.

Tip three

Fix dripping taps; even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe. If your home is going to be empty for more than two weeks, consider turning off the water at the main stop tap (usually under the sink) and let taps run to make sure there is no water left in the pipes.

Tip four

If you have tanks or pipes in the loft, open the hatch regularly to allow warm air to circulate. If pipes in the loft space are already frozen, opening the hatch should help the pipes to gradually thaw out.

If your pipes are frozen

  1. First, turn off the main stop tap. This could be under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe comes into your home.
  2. Open the cold tap closest to the part of the pipe that’s frozen. This will allow any water in the pipes to run away when it melts.
  3. Use a hairdryer to slowly thaw the ice in the pipe, starting at the tap end and working back towards the cold water tank. Take care as the pipe could burst as it contracts.

Never use a naked flame to thaw frozen pipes. This is a fire hazard and could damage your pipes.