Though not quite arctic in climate, temperatures in the UK regularly dip well below the 0 celsius mark on the thermometer. While many are busy thinking about Christmas and the holiday season, there is danger of ignoring the effect that frosty and icy weather conditions can have on our homes, especially pipework and drainage systems.
This could lead to potentially extensive and costly repairs if the health of your pipes is ignored when the mercury drops. Frozen pipes are susceptible to cracking, and a blockage caused by ice could see water supply to the taps cut off.
So what are some of the best ways to tackle frozen pipes?
1. Wrap up Warm
It’s well known that prevention is better than cure, so avoiding pipes freezing in the first place is always more beneficial than treating an ice-filled one.
Pipework that has been poorly protected, such as that which hasn’t been properly insulated or is exposed to the outside through incorrectly filled gaps, is the most susceptible to freezing.
Adding some lagging (a type of foam material that is available from home stores and DIY shops) will help prevent freezing in the majority of cases. Old blankets and insulating tape wrapped around the danger area will also be effective, though possibly less so.
2. Low Level Heat
In some homes, pipes could be very well insulated throughout and still suffer from freezing up in severe temperatures. This usually happens when a property is unoccupied for days at a time, meaning that central heating is often left off and no hot water is travelling through the pipes.
In this situation, it is advisable to leave heating on a very low level all day (between 5-10’C), keeping the water that’s running through the pipes warm enough to prevent freezing. While this may not be desirable from a financial point of view, the minimal costs of having the heating running at this level will massively offset the pricey repairs from water damage that may need repairing in the event of a burst pipe.
Some modern boilers even have an automated thermostat which kicks in if frosty weather occurs, so double check that this is operational if yours does.
3. Dealing With Frozen Pipes
In the unfortunate situation that pipes do freeze, whether through neglect of either of the two points above or just bad luck, it’s time to take evasive action.
Begin by turning off the stop tap or stopcock, and locate the frozen section of pipe. A hairdryer or hot water bottle is a good way to gently thaw the pipe, but be sure to avoid using a lighter or other naked flame, as this could cause greater damage.
Before unfreezing the pipe, turn on the tap nearest to the frozen section. This will give the water somewhere to flow after thawing.
Should the worst case scenario occur and you discover that the pipe has burst, immediately call for the help of a professional.
Express Drainage Solutions provide CCTV drain examinations for all domestic and commercial properties, giving you a clear indication as to the health of your drainage system, and allowing us to provide repairs where needed.
Should you suspect damage to your pipework has occurred during freezing weather, our expert team can investigate the issue before providing the best solution. Get in touch with Express Drainage Solutions today to find out more.