Skip to main content


Households and businesses urged to protect pipes from freezing and bursting

Water companies are urging millions of customers to protect their homes and businesses from potential leaks caused by frozen pipes thawing out this weekend.

The call comes as some customers’ water pipes could be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, even as they turn up their heating to stay warm and cosy. Uninsulated or exposed pipework can crack when pressure is created within the pipes as the system thaws, which can cause leaks.

Water companies are reminding customers of some simple precautions they can take to help protect and treat frozen pipework in their home or business, so they save money and avoid an expensive repair bill.

Water companies are advising customers to take the following steps to protect their pipes:

  1. Check your pipes: Insulate internal and external waterpipes with lagging, especially in the loft and garage
  2. Look after your central heating: make sure boilers are serviced and keep the heating on low if away from the house for a short period of time
  3. Customer should keep details of a reputable plumber to hand if waterpipes begin leaking
  4. Bleed radiators: this keeps heating systems running efficiently and reduces pressure on waterpipes
  5. Find the stop tap: customers may need to turn-off water quickly in an emergency
  6. Thaw frozen pipes using a hot water bottle or towels soaked in hot water

Shops and other businesses sitting empty during lockdown are particularly at risk as the heating may have been off for several weeks.

Water companies have a range of advice and tips available for customers on their website and Water UK has regularly updated guidance on its website. Anyone unsure who their water company is can use the Water UK postcode finder to find their supplier.

Customers who experience supply interruption should contact their water company. It is important that companies know if a member of a household is shielding or would have difficulty accessing alternative water supplies.

Christine McGourty, Water UK Chief Executive, said:

“Water companies are working hard to make sure customers in affected areas are made aware of the simple steps they can take to protect their property from leaks caused by thawing pipes.

“No-one wants an expensive plumbing bill, so customers are being urged to check and lag their pipes, bleed radiators and take other simple measures to protect against frost.”

“Water companies are here to help, so customers should get in touch if they have any concerns.”

Water companies are working together, and with regulators and government, to coordinate their response to freeze-thaw events in order to protect customers’ homes and businesses. This includes increasing the availability of alternative water supplies in cases of supply interruptions and sharing intelligence and best practice, as well as keeping customers regularly updated.