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How to protect an outside tap from freezing

06 February 2024 12:16

 | NI Water News

With the Met Office issuing a yellow warning for heavy snowfall across parts of the UK later this week, NI Water is urging local people to prepare for below zero temperatures and avoid potential burst water pipes.

NI Water’s message is for the public to take action now to ensure properties are prepared for the cold weather conditions, including outside taps.

NI Water education officer Anna Killen said: “A frozen outdoor tap can be frustrating when it comes to things such as not being able to wash your car or fill your dog’s bowl. However, it can also cause more serious damage if the pipe bursts and causes a joint inside your property to come apart and leak.

“Outside taps need to be checked as they can become frozen and can burst during periods of cold weather. It’s important not to overlook them in winter and to make sure they are protected from the effects of freezing temperatures, just like you would do when ensuring your indoor pipes are not at risk of bursts or leaks at this time of year.

“When making sure your home is protected and insulated, consider using an insulating tap cover which is simple way to add an extra layer of protection to outdoor taps. You can order your free outdoor tap cover alongside other water saving items at on completion of the home water audit.

“Home-owners should also check for leaks and turn off water where it’s not needed. If you see this happen, you should report the leak to NI Water online at or on 08088 028 2011.”

Offering some advice on what to do if you discover your outside tap has already frozen over, Anna said: “If you find your outside tap has frozen and you’re too late to use an insulated tap cover, try wrapping it in a towel that’s been soaked in hot water or pour some warm (not hot) water over it to unfreeze it. If that doesn’t work, the best thing for you to do is to phone your plumber before the problem gets worse.”

NI Water’s website offers lots of helpful advice on simple steps people can take to prepare their premises for cold weather, including the following tips:

  • Complete the NI Water home water audit and order your free outdoor tap cover alongside other water saving items at
  • Wrap up pipes and water tanks with lagging – DIY stores have everything you need
  • Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe
  • Find your home’s stop tap and make sure you can turn it off – most are under the kitchen sink
  • Leave the heating on low if you go away
  • Check your central heating boiler has been serviced
  • Keep the name of a plumber handy – type in your postcode at www.watersafe/   to find your nearest accredited plumbing business or try The Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation (SNIPEF) website at
  • To report a leak please contact NI Water online at or on 0800 0282011. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Notes to editors:

When checking your home is winterproof, why not take the time to check the age of your water supply pipes. For information about how you can find and deal with lead pipes please visit:

Media enquiries to the NI Water Press Office via email to

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