Protect your pipes

Find out how to keep your home water damage-free with these pipe-maintenance tips

Cold weather can wreak havoc on your heating system and put it under a lot of stress. Burst pipes are no fun at all, so read on to find out how you can best prevent this from happening.

Insulation is key

Insulating your pipes against the cold is one of the best ways to stop them from freezing over. It doesn’t have to put you out of pocket either – pipe lagging and heat tape are inexpensive DIY-shop purchases. Focus on any pipework you have outside or in colder areas of your house, and pick up some specially designed insulating covers for outside taps.

Water tanks are a leading cause of burst pipes, so make sure to cover them over especially if they sit in basements, garages or unused lofts.

Heating – keep it constant

During a cold snap it’s important to have the heating on for a portion of every day, even if the house is unoccupied, to prevent internal pipes from freezing. If you are away, then setting your home’s thermostat at 12–15° will do the trick. 

Make sure you have your boiler serviced yearly, preferably in the warmer months ahead of the winter. If your heating isn’t working efficiently then some pipes will be left to cool, leaving them vulnerable to freezing or cracking.

Let it flow

Allow some of that warm air get to pipes in your loft or cupboards by leaving your hatch open a crack and cupboard doors ajar while you’re out.

Make heating your home more efficient by blocking out draughts. Keep windows closed and seal up any gaps – temporary double-glazing plastic film is a great option if your windows are single-glazed.

Look out for leaks

Contrary to popular opinion, leaky taps don’t relieve pipe pressure – instead they can cause drains to freeze and water to back up to your sink, leading to an overflow. Fix leaky taps as soon as you can.  

Find out where your stopcock is so you can shut off water flow straight away in case the worst happens. As a preventative measure, you can turn it off if you’re going away for a few days.

Thaw it out

If your pipes do happen to freeze, gently warm them up again by soaking a cloth in hot water and laying it over the pipe.
A hairdryer on a low setting may also help to melt the ice inside. 

Caitlin Bowring


Image: Kačka a Ondra from Flickr

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