Winter is here, and the cold weather it brings could spell trouble for your water pipes! In cold weather, water pipes – especially those which are exposed to the elements – are at a threat of freezing and possibly bursting. But why does the cold weather cause water pipes to burst? And how can you deal with frozen pipes to prevent them from leaking?
What causes frozen pipes to burst?
When temperatures drop below zero, water inside pipes starts to freeze and expand. This puts pressure on the sides of the pipe, which causes cracks and makes the water pipe burst. You may not notice leaks to begin with, but as temperatures increase, the water thaws and leaks, causing excess water waste and potentially damaging your property. This is a common occurrence in the colder months, so its recommended to keep a close eye on your pipes during cold snaps, and deal with frozen pipes as soon as you notice them.
There are a few signs you can look out for that indicate your pipes might be frozen or are in the process of freezing. If you spot frost or a layer of condensation on the outside of your pipe, or see a noticeable bump on the surface, these are both common signs of frozen pipes. Additionally, lack of water running through your faucets or hearing gurgling sounds coming from them, could indicate your pipes are frozen.
How to safely defrost frozen pipes
If you’ve spotted frozen pipes, its important to defrost them quickly and safely, to prevent them from bursting. Our 6 steps below can help you deal with frozen pipes efficiently.
1. First and foremost, it’s important to turn off your property’s water supply by locating your water stop valve. This can often be found under the kitchen sink. Turn it clockwise to close it.
2. Next, drain any excess water from the pipes. To do this, leave your taps running until there’s no more water flowing through the pipes. It’s recommended to collect this water in buckets for future use, to avoid wasting it.
3. For safety purposes, move all electronics away from your pipes and place towels around your furniture to prevent them from any damage.
4. Start to slowly thaw the frozen areas of the pipe. You’ll need something to warm it up, such as hot towels, a hairdryer, a portable heater, or heating pads. Avoid using anything that could be dangerous or could melt the pipe, such as lighters, blowtorches, matchsticks, or anything with a naked flame.
5. Once you think your pipes have fully thawed, check for any leakage, and turn on your water supply.
6. If you’re still uncertain, or if you don’t feel confident defrosting your pipes by yourself, contact a trusted plumber to assist with you with frozen pipes.
What to do if your water pipe bursts
Sometimes, leaks and bursts can’t be avoided. If you’ve identified a burst water pipe, you should first turn off your water supply, then turn off your heating and leave taps running to drain remaining water from the pipes. Contact your water supplier for assistance or call your wholesaler directly on their emergency water.
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