Cold weather advice

Cold weather advice

Be prepared this winter

It’s important to protect your home from cold weather to beat the freeze.

As temperatures drop, you should:

  • find your internal stop tap and check it's working
  • protect pipes in cold areas by covering them with lagging
  • cover your outside tap to protect it from the cold
  • check for leaks on your pipework and appliances
  • get your boiler serviced
  • keep your heating on low if you go away

Don’t forget to have the number of a qualified plumber handy in case of an emergency – Watersafe is an online directory of approved plumbers.

For weather warnings and advice, see the Met Office.

How to find and check your stop tap

Your internal stop tap is usually found under your kitchen sink or in an adjoining garage. 

Make sure it hasn't seized up by turning it on and off several times.

Then, turn fully on and back half a turn.

It's important that you can find your stop tap and that it is working so you can turn off your supply in an emergency. 

If your stop tap isn't working, call a qualified plumber.

Remember to test it every 6 - 12 months.

How to lag pipes  

To prevent a burst in the winter, use lagging to protect pipes in draughty areas such as attics, garages and outbuildings. 

Available from most hardware shops and large DIY stores, lagging is a foam material made to wrap around pipes. 

You will need:

  • foam tubing called lagging
  • a measuring tape
  • a utility knife
  • and gloves.

Step 1: Measure the length of pipe you wish to cover.

Step 2: Mark the correct length on the lagging and carefully cut the lagging with a utility knife.

Step 3: Place the lagging onto the pipe.

When lagging your pipes, remember:

  • a 15mm pipe needs 32mm of lagging
  • larger pipes need less - 19mm to 25mm of lagging 
  • to cover all joints and bends 
  • to keep lagging dry inside and use water proof insulation outside 
  • insulation will only delay freezing about eight hours in exposed areas. 

Don't put insulation underneath the storage tank in your loft or attic.

Frozen pipe advice

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you think you have a frozen pipe: 

  • turn off your internal stop tap - usually found in your kitchen 
  • partly turn on any affected taps until the pipes have thawed
  • thaw the frozen pipe using a hot water bottle or warm towels 

Once pipes or the taps have thawed turn on the water supply at the internal stop tap. 

For further help and advice, call a qualified plumber.

How to check for leaks

It's important to check for leaks around your home before it gets cold. A leak can not only waste water and money, but cause damage if water freezes in the pipes.

The following signs indicate you might have a leak: 

  • The sound of running water when none is being used. 
  • A significant drop in water pressure. 
  • A higher than expected metered water bill. 

To identify if you do have a leak and where it might be, follow these simple steps: 

  • Make sure no water is being used around the home and check your water meter. If the dial is spinning, it's likely you have a leak. Turn off your internal stop tap (usually located under the kitchen sink) and return to the meter. If the dial has stopped spinning, the leak may be inside the property. If it continues to spin, it could be on your private supply pipe (between the street boundary and your home). If this is the case, contact us as we may be able to fix your private supply pipe for free, even though it's your responsibility. 
  • Check taps, showerheads, radiators and appliance connection pipes for any dripping water. A good way to test this is by putting bowls underneath them overnight. 
  • Check for any leaky loos, as toilets are one of the more common places for leaks to occur. Order your free LeakyLoo strip by completing our handy water calculator.