Before joining Water UK, I had no idea what freeze-thaw was, or of the impact it can have. Since I’ve started, I’ve learnt about the enormous disruption that freeze-thaw can cause when, during colder weather, water pipes freeze and then burst as they thaw, causing leaks. In February 2018 this phenomenon resulted in disruption to the water supply of around 200,000 households and businesses.
Every year, Water UK and our members run customer campaigns encouraging them to ensure their homes are prepared for the winter months, and prevent a potentially costly repair bill from burst pipes.
Getting the UK #WinterReady
When it came to launching our #WinterReady campaign, I wanted to find out how many people, like me, didn’t know about freeze-thaw or about how easy it is to protect your home against it.
The answer was: a lot! We commissioned polling which revealed that 53% of people had never heard of freeze-thaw and that 22% take none of the recommended measures to protect their homes against colder weather.
The polling also revealed that a third (33%) wouldn’t know where to locate their stop tap in an emergency. If you don’t know what a stop tap is, you’re not alone. 14% of people we asked had never heard of it either, but a stop tap (or stopcock) is a small tap on your water pipe which turns off the water supply to your property, and it’s important to be able to find it quickly if your pipes are leaking.
Our campaign highlights a series of hints and tips to customers to help them stay safe and warm. To encourage the UK to get #WinterReady, we created a fun, simple animation, highlighting top tips to protect your home against freeze-thaw, and who to call in case of emergency, which you can watch here.
Here are our top tips to help ensure a trouble-free season:
- Check your pipes – insulate your pipes with lagging inside and outside your home and fix any drips. This will prevent your pipes from freezing.
- Central heating – get your boiler serviced before the cold weather arrives and be sure to bleed your radiators.
- Check your loft – check that insulation is in good condition and there are no leaks in your water tank. Consider lagging pipes in your loft too
- Outside your home – clear your gutters and drains to prevent blockages, and check for leaks
- Find your stop tap – You may need to turn off your water quickly in an emergency
Following this advice will help keep your home safe and warm this winter, but there is also help available for anyone worrying about their bills. In fact, all water companies offer further help and support including access to Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers, so contact your water company if you need support or for more information.