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Winter Advice - Protecting pipes and Reducing The Problem

Article by Adeela Ahmed on Nov 28, 2011 View in browser

Winter Advice - Protecting pipes and Reducing The Problem

The misery of frozen and burst pipes experienced by many landlords and tenants last winter could have been avoided by taking a few simple precautions.

With freezing temperatures forecast, we bring your attention to some suggestions made by Insurers on how best to cope and therefore reduce the likelihood of encountering a problem this winter.

  • Ensure your heating system is serviced and maintained and that you have access to sufficient fuel should there be winter shortages
  • Find your mains water stop valve and make sure you can turn it off and on.
  • Drain any outside taps.
  • Repair any dripping taps and leaking overflow pipes
  • Reduce draughts wherever possible.
  • Check that pipes and tanks in the loft and elsewhere within the property are properly insulated:

o        Make sure all pipes and tanks in your loft space (or anywhere else which may be liable to freezing) are fully lagged.

o        Use good quality lagging to protect pipes and tanks.

o        External pipes, taps and hoses are particularly vulnerable to the cold so ensure they are adequately insulated

o        Loft insulation has improved over recent years however this has meant that exposed tanks and pipes are vulnerable to freezing. Therefore it is important that you ensure you put insulation on top of tanks and pipes rather than just underneath them.

o        Wrap up water tanks and cisterns in insulating jackets.

  • Leave the loft trap door open to allow warm air from other parts of the house to circulate in the loft. This will help prevent tanks and pipes freezing.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Keep your central heating on if you are going to be away from home overnight or for some days.

o        Leave the heating on low 24 hours a day although guidance varies on this although it is important to ensure that the temperature does not drop below 4 degrees

o        Consider draining down the water

o        In periods of cold weather inspect your premises daily and check that that all the taps are running freely, especially those hidden away outdoors or in the garage.

o        If you find a pipe that you think might be frozen, open the tap nearest to the potentially frozen part of the pipe so the water can flow through when it’s melted.

o        If the property is left vacant then the water system needs to be drained.

o        If the boiler does not appear to be working, then this can be due to the plastic condensate discharge pipe outside of your property freezing, preventing the boiler from operating.

This can also cause water to appear as though it is leaking from your boiler. Your boiler is likely to stop working and it may show a fault sign if it has a digital display.

Check if the plastic pipe that runs from your boiler to the outside is frozen. If it is, you may be able to thaw the plastic pipe as long as it is at ground level, accessible and safe for you to do so. To thaw the pipe you can:

-          hold a hot water bottle or warmed heat wrap around the condensate pipe try pouring warm but not boiling water on the condensate pipe

-          Once thawed, the boiler must be reset.

 

What should I do if the pipes are frozen?

  • Turn off the water at the mains stop valve, and the header tank if you think your pipes is frozen. This will cut down the amount of water which can escape if they burst.
  • Organise a plumber to attend and inspect the pipes for splits.
    • Thaw a frozen pipe gently, with a hot water bottle or a hair-dryer, not a blow-lamp, boiling water or a heat-gun, and have something ready to catch the water if the pipe has burst.
    • Raise the temperature in your house but do not switch on the immersion or central heating.
    • When the water begins to run at all taps and the WC cistern, it is safe to use the immersion or central heating.

What to do if the pipes burst:

  • Turn off the water supply at the main stopcock.
    • Contact your insurance company for guidance, which will include making a list of damaged items; take photograph of all damage and save all receipts
  • Identify the source of the burst. If it is the tank, empty the tank (run all cold taps and flush the toilet a number of times).
  • Before draining hot water, turn off the boiler and immersion heater. Turn off the cold feed pipe to the cylinder and run all of the hot water taps to get rid of the water in the pipes.
  • Take precautions so that your health and safety and that of your tenants are not affected by electrical dangers. Do not touch anything electrical. Contact an electrician.
  • Use a bucket to collect water.
  • Pierce the ceiling if it is bulging and place a container to collect water.
  • Call the plumber.

Display Emergency contacts at the premises:

  • Plumber
  • Your details
  • Boiler Engineer

Other points for consideration:

  • Tenancy Agreement – ensure it refers to heating the premises

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE

DO YOU WANT TO BE HOMELESS AFTER CHRISTMAS??

  • Find your mains water stop valve and make sure you can turn it off and on.
  • Keep your central heating on if you are going to be away from home overnight or for some days.

o        Leave the heating on low 24 hours a day although guidance varies on this although it is important to ensure that the temperature does not drop below 4 degrees

o        If you find a pipe that you think might be frozen, open the tap nearest to the potentially frozen part of the pipe so the water can flow through when it’s melted.

o        If the boiler does not appear to be working, then this can be due to the plastic condensate discharge pipe outside of your property freezing, preventing the boiler from operating.

This can also cause water to appear as though it is leaking from your boiler. Your boiler is likely to stop working and it may show a fault sign if it has a digital display.

Check if the plastic pipe that runs from your boiler to the outside is frozen

What should I do if the pipes are frozen?

  • RING YOUR LANDLORD ON----------------------------- FOR INSTRUCTIONS
  • Turn off the water at the mains stop valve, and the header tank if you think your pipes is frozen. This will cut down the amount of water which can escape if they burst.
  • Raise the temperature in your house but do not switch on the immersion or central heating.
  • When the water begins to run at all taps and the WC cistern, it is safe to use the immersion or central heating.

What to do if the pipes burst:

  • Turn off the water supply at the main stopcock.
  • Identify the source of the burst. If it is the tank, empty the tank (run all cold taps and flush the toilet a number of times).
  • Before draining hot water speak to your Landlord
  • Take precautions so that your health and safety and that of your tenants are not affected by electrical dangers. Do not touch anything electrical. Contact an electrician.
  • Use a bucket to collect water.

Emergency contacts at the premises:

  • Your details (Landlord or Agent)
  • Plumber
  • Boiler Engineer