Because of the unprecedented cold spell, resulting in frost penetration deep into the ground, many householders are experiencing problems due to frozen water pipes.
The two most common sources of the problem are:
1. Either a service pipe between the watermain and the house, which because of the depth at which it has been laid has frozen, or
2. A pipe in an attic, which because of inadequate lagging has frozen.
Because of the diverse nature of each individual case, it is not feasible to issue “one size fits all” advice. In general, householders experiencing problems with frozen pipes are advised to contact their own plumber. The plumber should be able to locate the blockage and may be able to advise on ways of freeing or bypassing the frozen pipe in the short term.
Individual tips which might help to avoid frozen pipes are:
• Wrap a towel around an outside tap.
• Open the attic trap door to allow heat into the attic.
• Leave a light on in the attic.
• Leave heating on longer than normal.
• Place a piece of insulation eg. carpet/matting over your external stopcock.
• Park a car over your external stopcock.
• Farmers should carry out regular check on service pipes to water troughs.
When carrying out any measures to ensure pipes do not freeze, people are reminded to ensure that the measures are carried out in a manner which is safe and does not create a hazard for either themselves or for the general public.
In the longer term, when the thaw sets in, some of the frozen pipes will have burst and will need repair. With this in mind, householders should now familiarise themselves with the location of their stopcock, ensure there is access to the stop cock and know how to turn off the water supply to the house.
Early action to turn off water will reduce the potential for damage, particularly from burst pipes in the attic.