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Public urged to prepare homes against the ‘big thaw’

  • Below freezing temperatures expected to suddenly rise this weekend, putting pipes at risk of damage from freeze-thaw
  • Public urged to check pipes are insulated now and homes are prepared, to avoid costly repairs
  • Unoccupied homes, public buildings and businesses are particularly at risk

Water companies are urging the public to check their pipes are insulated now, as freezing conditions are expected to suddenly ease over the weekend for much of the country – putting pipes at risk of damage from freeze-thaw.

Most of the country has already experienced below freezing weather this week, with the Government issuing extreme weather warnings and snow and ice causing widespread disruption.

With temperatures expected to suddenly rise this weekend, water companies are urging their customers to check their pipes are well insulated to avoid the damaging impact of freeze-thaw.

Unoccupied homes, public building such as schools and businesses are particularly at risk from freeze-thaw bursts. The public and business-owners are being warned to check on any additional properties and ensure someone has access and they have the contact details of a plumber should any issues occur.

Freeze-thaw occurs when very cold weather is followed by a rapid period of warming. Water pipes can freeze and then burst as they thaw, causing damage and leaks. Not only is this extremely disruptive, but it can be difficult and costly to repair.

Checking your pipes are well insulated, particularly those more exposed to the cold such as pipes in lofts and outdoor taps, could save thousands of pounds in potential repairs if the pipes were to freeze, thaw, and burst.

The following tips can help the public to prepare ahead of the weekend:

  • Insulate exposed pipes (including any pipes in the loft or other cold areas) with felt, pipe wrap or other insulating material
  • Insulate any outdoor taps and fix any drips
  • Clear your gutters and drains to prevent blockages, and check for leaks
  • Make sure your water tank is insulated
  • Find your stop tap, so that you can block off water supply quickly in an emergency

Water UK also recommends having the contact details of a reputable plumber on hand in case the worst happens. The WaterSafe website can help you to find an industry-approved plumber in your area.

Peter Jenkins, Director of Campaigns at Water UK, said:

“The recent freezing weather has been very disruptive to many people. The last thing we want is for people to experience further disruption as temperatures rise this weekend, putting many homes at risk of burst pipes due to freeze-thaw.

“That’s why we’re urging everyone to check their water pipes are well insulated now, and to follow our simple tips to protect homes against weather conditions. If you’re concerned about the impact of freeze-thaw or the cold weather, we encourage you to get in touch with your water company for further help and advice.”

Water companies and Water UK are actively monitoring the situation, working together to address risk and ensure customer supply.

Water UK is running a ‘get winter ready’ campaign this winter to help people protect their homes against the cold weather. You can find more tips and information on preparing your home for winter at the Water UK Get winter ready website.

Notes to editors

  • Freeze-thaw is the phenomenon which results in water pipes bursting as periods of very cold weather are followed by a rapid period of warming
  • More information on freeze thaw can be found here