How to Prevent Winter Pipe Problems

Brrrr, you can certainly feel that chill in the air telling you that old man winter is on his way. Temperatures will be dropping pretty low and that can spell trouble for your pipes. The best way to prevent pipe problems is with proper winter drain care.

As they say; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, and hopefully you will not want to learn that lesson the hard way. Following a few simple winter drain care tips can keep any pipe problems to a minimum.

frozen pipe

Why Pipes Freeze

Although most things expand when they are heated and contract when they are cooled, water does not always comply with this rule. Water will follow these rules when the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius, but once the temperature falls below that point it begins to expand and will continue to expand until the temperature reaches 0 degrees.

What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

Anything below this temperature will be a frozen state. It can expand to 9-10% during this phase and will make the pipes in your home that contain water expand also. Once water is frozen in your pipe it can apply a great pressure on their structural integrity – over 2,000 pounds per square inch.

With such a great pressure pushing against it, the pipe may eventually burst and cause enormous water damage to your home and personal belongings. This is why it is so important to do as much as you can to prevent damage such as this from occurring. But how to prevent drain pipes from freezing in winter?

Simple Winter Drain Care Tips

Inspect All Pipes, Especially Those Leading Directly Into the Home

These pipes are more prone to freezing because they are more exposed to the elements, putting them at greater risk from snow, frost and extremely cold weather.


Make Sure That There Are No Cracks or Gaps Around The Pipes That Enter Your Home

If you do find cracks or gaps, it is necessary to fill these in with sufficient insulation to stop the cold from getting in.

Draughts from these gaps can not only cause problems for your pipes, but will also raise your heating bill. Don’t forget to keep draughts from coming in through doors and windows by fitting them with draught excluders. The warmer you make the house the less chance of your pipes freezing.


Keep Your Home Heated During the Winter Months

So what is the minimum temperature to keep pipes from freezing? The temperature should never get below 12 degrees Celsius to help prevent your pipes from freezing. The more you heat your home the less likely the pipes are to freeze.


Open Cupboard Doors

It is a good idea to open the cupboard doors when it is cold outside. This will allow the heat from the house to circulate around the pipes. This is especially important around the sinks.

It is also a good idea to open any access points to the loft to let the heat get up there too.


Fix Any Dripping Taps or Valves in The House

Dripping taps dispense water slowly which might cause it to freeze even before it makes it way through the tap and into your sink. This is why it is important to check your taps and valves regularly and repair them immediately once you discover them.

winter pipe problems


As we already mentioned, some pipes are more likely to freeze simply because of where they are located in and around the house. It will be necessary to wrap these pipes with insulation, such as lagging or heat tape to keep them warm.

Make sure to buy good quality insulation so that it can do its job properly. Generally, the thinner the pipe, the thicker insulation it will need.

Drain Pipe Lagging

Drain pipe lagging is a form of insulation that is wrapped around your pipes and is usually made of a foam material. This will not only insulate your pipes but also reinforce them.

Heat Tape

Electric Heat Tape is a ribbon type tape that is wrapped around the pipe. As you may have guessed, this tape has electric elements built right into it. After wrapping the pipe that you wish to heat, simply plug it into the wall. This will allow the temperature on the tape to heat up the pipe. There is a thermostat on it to control the heat tape.

While you are insulating don’t forget to wrap your water tank in a made to measure insulation jacket or wrap the insulation around the front and sides of the tank.


What to Do if You Discover A Frozen Pipe

The first clue that you may have a frozen blockage in the pipe is if your water flow becomes suddenly reduced.

  • Turn off your stopcock immediately
  • Open all of your cold water taps to drain the system. Do not turn on the hot water taps, it might collapse the system.
  • Check for leaks around the joints or signs of bursting in the pipe itself
  • Feel your way along the pipe checking to find where the blockage is. Usually the spot of the blockage will appear much cooler than the rest of the pipe.
  • Heat your pipe with a hair dryer. Never use a flame to heat the pipe. If you do not have a hair dryer you can place hot towels around the pipes.


Express Drainage Solutions are the leading providers of drain repairs and unblocking in the London & Greater London area, providing emergency drain services 24/7 in the event of pipes damaged by freezing temperatures. For more information, get in touch with the team today.

Want more information?Contact us today on 020 8979 5444

EDS unblocked and repaired over 20,000 drains last year for the residents and businesses of London.

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Category: Tips


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