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Frozen pipes – how to avoid it and how to thaw them

Frozen pipes are something you definitely don’t need in winter. In this article, we will discuss ways on how to prevent your pipes from freezing and how to help thaw them out, if they do freeze.


Why do pipes freeze?

Your pipes usually have a small amount of water left over, even when the taps are off. This water can freeze when the temperature drops. Frozen pipes can leave you without running water and they’re at risk of bursting and flooding your home.


What to do if they do freeze

If your water pipes have burst, turn off the stop cock and contact our team to get professional help. Get in touch with your water supplier if you are unsure of where your stop cock is.

If your pipes are only frozen, you could try defrosting them yourself. Make sure you’re safe before you do any work. If you’re not confident, get in touch with us here.


Turning on the taps

Turning on the taps in your home helps to relieve the pressure on the system. And it can show you where the frozen pipe(s) are. If water doesn’t come out of several taps, you get in contact with us. Outside pipes or pipes in unheated places like attics are most likely to freeze. You may be able to work back from the affected tap to find the section that needs thawing.


Warming pipes by turning up the heat

If you’re not sure where the frozen pipe is or if it’s not easily accessible, try turning up your heating. Increasing the air temperature in your home can be enough to thaw affected pipes. Open up any cupboards and/or loft hatches to let the warm air circulate around your pipes. You could use a portable heater for unheated internal areas like garages or lofts. If you do use a space heater, do not leave it unattended incase of any accidents.


Applying heat to frozen pipes

If you have an exposed pipe, you can try applying heat to the pipe itself.

First feel along the pipe until you find the frozen section. You need to warm the pipe slowly. Try using a hairdryer. If you don’t have access to electricity, you could wrap a warm cloth around the frozen section of the pipe instead. Do not use a direct flame like a blow torch. You could boil the water, causing your pipes to explode, or melt the pipe itself.


Avoiding frozen pipes

If cold weather’s on the way, it’s worth taking some simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing.


  • Insulate pipes and water tanksWrap pipes in cold areas with pipe sponge covers. Insulate any water tanks, especially in colder places like the loft.


  • Leave your heating on – Set your thermostat at 12-15C when you’re away from the property. This keeps the air inside warm to help stop internal pipes from freezing.


  • Open cabinet doors and loft hatches – Allow warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks or in the attic.


  • Run your taps – It’s harder for water to freeze if it’s running, so turn your taps on and off regularly. Or, let your taps trickle so water is always passing. If you’re on a water meter, make sure you keep an eye on your usage if you do this.


  • Drain your water system – If you know you’ll be away in colder weather, think about draining the water from your system completely.

If you’re still unsure and need professional help from qualified plumbers, get in touch with us today.

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