As winter well and truly sets in and the temperatures start to plummet into the minus figures, the risk of pipes freezing becomes an ever-present possibility. Not only can this prevent water from coming out of your taps but it can lead to more serious problems for piping internally, leading to damage and even pipe bursts.
Your pipes will always contain an amount of water, and when the freezing point of water is reached, it can cause ice to form creating a blockage in the pipe or worse, rupturing the pipe (as the water expands when freezing).
If you experience a problem with a pipe freeze, then it’s best to call a professional and AWS are on hand over the holiday season to help you with any emergencies you may have. However, there are things you can do to minimise the risk of freezing pipes and help keep your water supply flowing and reduce the risk of a burst pipe through the cold snaps. Prevention, as they say, is better than cure.
How do I stop my water pipes from freezing?
There are several ways you can keep your water supply above freezing temp this winter.
- Keep your central heating running – We know it’s tempting given the current cost of heating your home right now, but turning off your heating stops not only warm water from being flushed around your piping, but the lack of warm air in your home could allow for a low enough temperature for water to freeze in your water pipes. This doesn’t mean that you need to have your heating on full blast. Instead, set your thermostat low to prevent your pipes from freezing up.
- Turn your taps on and off – Keeping water flowing through your taps, especially warm water, is a good way to avoid frozen or burst pipes.
- Add insulation to water pipes and tanks – Adding extra layers of insulation around pipes can help prevent them from freezing over. In the case of external water pipes, foam tubing can be applied as a formal of insulation helping to reduce the risk of a pipe freeze.
Remember – The temperature to freeze water is 32°F (Fahrenheit) or 0°C (degrees celsius) if the air temperature falls below this ice crystals are likely to form in your pipes.
How can I tell if my pipes are frozen?
Even with taking precautions, sometimes you can just be unlucky, especially in the cold weather. If you suspect that your pipes are frozen here are a few telltale signs to help you establish the confirmation.
- Odours coming from the faucet or drain – Ice causes a blockage in the water pipe. With no way of bypassing the ice, bad odours will travel back up the pipe and out through the tap. That drain smell lingering around your kitchen sink could indicate ice in your pipes.
- Frost on the pipeline – If you see frost forming on the exterior of the pipe then it’s a good indicator that the interior is well on its way to becoming iced over.
- No liquid water flowing from the tap – If you go to turn a household tap on and very little to no water comes out then there’s a good chance the pipe has frozen. If combined with any of the above then you are almost certainly dealing with a frozen water pipe.
I think my pipes are frozen how can I thaw the pipes?
If you encounter frozen pipes then the best thing to do is get advice from a professional.
Warning – Avoid pouring boiling water on or down frozen pipes as this can cause serious damage due to the opposite extremes in temperature and lead to pipe bursts.
My pipes froze up and now I think I have a burst pipe!
If you notice a water leak in your home as a result of a burst pipe then turn off your water supply at the mains using the stopcock. If you are unsure of where your stopcock is located then the common areas are:
- Under kitchen sinks
- Cupboards under stairs
- By gas meters
- Utility rooms
- In cellars
- In cupboards – common for flats.
For more information read our blog, ‘What to do if you notice a burst water pipe in your home‘.
Call Avon Water Services Emergency Callout line right away on 0800 640 8583
Our team will be able to assess the situation and advise on any repairs or replacements you may need.