It’s quick. It’s easy and it could help you protect your personal property and possessions.
Water, it’s a big part of our daily routine, and it only takes one big freeze to strike to cause a burst pipe, loss of water- and potentially costly repairs. That’s why we’ve put together some useful information to help you prepare your home for the winter weather including:
- Simple ways to protect your pipes
- Guidance on pipework responsibilities
- Free Stop Valve Tag
- Winter Advice for Farmers
- Advice for Business Customers
- Four short videos (how to locate your stop valve, insulation, and what to do if a pipe freezes or pipe bursts)
All pipework within your home or business boundary is your responsibility, and spending a little time on simple frost protection now could help you avoid trouble and expense this winter.
Simple tips to protect you and avoid frozen pipes this winter:
- Insulate water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces, garages and outbuildings. This is also applicable to non domestic premises and holiday homes likely to be unoccupied and unheated for prolonged periods of time.
- Insulation is essential in helping to prevent water in pipes from freezing. It is also important to ensure there are no gaps in the insulation at bends, valves or fittings.
- You can calculate how much protection the various types of insulation offer by clicking here. This calculator tool will help you determine how effective insulation will be in delaying the effects of cold weather on pipes, such as freezing.
- Lagging material for pipes can be purchased in DIY/Plumbing stores. It should be noted that even with lagging, extreme weather conditions can result in water in pipes freezing. Without lagging however the potential for this to happen is greatly increased.
- Fix dripping taps – a small trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe.
- Find your internal stop tap/valve. It is usually but not always located under your kitchen sink and normally closes by turning clockwise. You may want to test it is working.
- Service your boiler regularly.
- Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of your property are kept closed and minimise any draughts from outside.
- If you have tanks or pipes in the roof space, allow some warm air to circulate by opening the trap door (this should be a temporary measure ONLY, as it will cause condensation - tanks and pipes should be insulated)
- Leave the heating on low when you are away. Leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member who can check the house regularly.
- Write down the contact details of an Approved Contractor (qualified plumber). NI Water recommends you use a WaterSafe Approved Plumber, search for your nearest approved plumber at WaterSafe.org.uk by entering your postcode.
- If a property is not in use or occupied for a prolonged period of time it is advisable to turn the water supply off at the stop tap and even consider draining down the system to lessen the possibility of burst pipes going undetected causing property damage and the waste of water.
- See advice video’s on how to protect your pipes this winter:
- See video - Tips on preparing your home for winter weather
Dealing with Frozen Pipes
- Turn off the water supply at the stop tap/valve.
- Thaw along the pipe, starting from the end nearest the tap.
- Don’t use a blow lamp or naked flame.
- Put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe or use a hair dryer at its lowest setting to thaw pipes. Be careful not to warm them too quickly.
- Don’t leave taps dripping or running. The water may not flush down the plug hole if the pipes below are frozen.
Dealing with a Burst Pipe
- Turn off the stop tap/valve.
- Try to block escaping water with thick cloth like towels.
- Turn on all taps to reduce flooding.
- Call an Approved Plumber. NI Water recommends you use a WaterSafe Approved Plumber, search for your nearest approved plumber at WaterSafe.org.uk by entering your postcode or by telephoning 0333 2079030
- Don’t forget to turn off taps once the problem is fixed to avoid the waste of water.
If you have checked the pipes on your property and they are not burst or frozen, and you still have no water supply, contact NI Water on 03457 440088
Warm Homes Scheme
There is advice and assistance available to householders to help them make their homes warmer. To find out more about what grants may be available, you can speak to an energy advisor at the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512012.
The Department for Social Development’s Warm Homes scheme is available for people who receive certain benefits and own or rent their home from a private landlord.
For more information on grants available, please visit http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/northernireland or call 0300 123 1234
All plumbing fittings, appliances and pipes within domestic and non-domestic premises connected to mains water must comply with plumbing law. This law is known as The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 and can be downloaded free of charge from the http://www.niwater.com/water-fittings-regulations/