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How to Prevent and Thaw Frozen Pipes

Feeling the chill already? With the weather getting colder and December already here, now is a good time to think about your pipes and how you can protect them from freezing or even bursting this winter. Here’s so tips:

Use Insulated Foam Covering

Pipes in attics and basements or those fixed to the inside of external walls are most likely to freeze as these areas usually unheated. They also tend to lack insulation, but you can change this by lagging them using insulated foam sleeving. Bear in mind that the thinner the pipe is, the thicker the insulation needs to be – it should should be at least 5cm in diameter. Make sure that there are no gaps at valves or bends. Sleeving can also be used on the external condensate pipe at the back of your condensing boiler if you have one.

Don’t Insulate Underneath your Tank. This is important if your tank is in the loft. Your loft will be even colder if it’s floor is insulated, as this will be blocking the heat that normally rises from the room below. If you can avoid it, don’t insulate underneath your tank – but do insulate the top and sides to prevent the heat from escaping.

Fix Dripping Taps

Dripping taps can cause problems because if a drip freezes the pipe will become blocked. Make sure to replace the washers on dripping taps to avoid this.

Get your Boiler Serviced

If you haven’t already serviced your boiler ready for the winter, there’s no time to like the present. Having your boiler looked at by a qualified plumber/engineer is the best way to protect it against breakdowns.

Leave your Heating on

If you’re lucky enough to be escaping to somewhere a little warmer this winter and leaving the house to fend for itself, consider the heating on at a low temperature. While turning it off completely will save you money, you could end up regretting it if a pipe bursts and causes expensive damage to your home. While you’re away, leaving your loft hatch open is also a good idea as it allows heat to circulate around your tank and pipes. If your home is going to be occupied for a long time, consider turning off the water at the stopcock and draining down the system so there is no water in the pipes. You may also want to ask a friend to check the house regularly.

Find your Stopcock

Make sure you know where your home’s stopcock is and that you can turn it off if necessary.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you do find yourself with frozen pipes, there are a few things you can do to thaw them out. The first thing to do is turn off the water supply at the stopcock by rotating it clockwise, an turn off the heating system. You can then slowly thaw the the pipe using hot water bottles, a towel soaked in hot water, or a hairdryer on the lowest setting. Start at the end closest to the tap. Turn on the tap closest to the affected area so you can see when the ice begins to melt.

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