Preventing Frozen Water Pipes

Winter can be a dangerous time for homes that haven’t protected themselves from the cold. Ice can build up where you least expect it, this includes in your water pipes. When water freezes into ice it expands which builds pressure in enclosed spaces such as pipes. This can lead to the pipe bursting which leads to water damage to your home, a long clean up process, and costly repairs. Here are some best practices when it comes to preventing frozen water pipes.

Preventing the Big Freeze

Take steps to prevent water freezing in your pipes at home. Doing some basic checks can be the difference between a costly clean up operation, and peace of mind.

  • You can buy a lagging foam, which fills out crawl spaces where pipes are exposed. This insulates the pipes, reducing the risk of the water inside freezing.
  • You should insulate your water tank. This will keep the water above freezing temperature before it reaches your pipes. The insulation should cover all of the water tank except the area directly below it, as this will stop warm air rising increasing the likelihood of freezing.
  • Repair all dripping taps. Dripping taps can freeze and block your water pipes, causing damage.

What To Do with a Frozen Pipe

  1. First you must find the blockage, you can do this by finding out which taps are not running and following the pipe. By following the pipe and feeling where the metal is colder, you can find the ice blockage.
  2. When you have found the blockage, you should take the necessary precautions to protect your possessions. This means covering up any large items and plug sockets, and moving smaller items away from the blockage.
  3. Turn off the main stop tap which is normally found under the kitchen sink. You should also turn off the stopcock if you have a cold water tank. This will stop water flowing through the pipe whilst you are trying to thaw out the blockage.
  4. It is also good to run the closest tap to the pipe you are defrosting. This will allow the water to drain from the pipe when the ice melts.
  5. You can now start to thaw the ice, it should be noted that you NEVER use a naked flame or a fire gun to melt the ice in your pipe as this can be a fire hazard.
  6. Using a hair dryer or a hot water bottle, you can start to thaw out the ice that is blocking your pipe. You must be careful because the pipe could burst at any moment as the ice starts to thaw.
  7. When the ice has melted, you need to check for any damage. You should be wary of any cracks or leaks that can lead to long term problems for you.
  8. Once the ice is completely thawed and you are sure that your pipe isn’t damaged, you can turn on the stopcock and try and run the taps. The water flow may start off slowly, but should return to normal pretty quickly.

If you find any damage to your water pipes, you should call an emergency plumber straight away to fix the problem.

Damage Control

Sometimes you can pick up problems too late, and suffer a burst water pipe. Here are some ways to ensure that the problem is solved quickly.

  • Check your insurance policy to see if it will cover alternate accommodation for you and your family whilst the damage is being fixed.
  • Try to keep windows and doors open to help rooms dry. This can be further bolstered by leaving your heating on. You should also pull drawers from their dresser, and open cupboard doors to help them dry if they were caught up in the damage.
  • Keep all water-damaged items, this will be essential in the insurance claim as your insurers will need to value all of the damages.
  • Store all damaged items together in a dry room.

Here at Tangible Building, we deal with your insurers directly. If you become the victim of a burst water pipe, we will do everything in our power to turn your house back into your home. Freephone us on 0800 328 4188.

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Thames Valley

Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.


Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.

Jane Smith

Regional Director at Thames Valley Office

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