"any outdoor pipe can be at risk during icy weather"
Since the temperature has persisted below freezing this winter, there may be problems with pipes in homes across the UK.
Burst or frozen pipes are common during this time of year, but in the run-up to Christmas, nobody wants these pesky issues to affect festivities.
If you believe something could be wrong with the pipes in your home, British Gas has provided some guidance below.
British Gas initially recommends not to worry if you suspect a pipe is frozen. Red flags to note include:
- When turned on, your central heating generates gurgling noises.
- The boiler won’t start.
- Your taps are either producing a trickle of water or none at all.
- Your toilet is draining slowly, and your sink is blocked.
If you spot these signs, here are the actions to take.
Track down the frozen pipe
You will need to search and locate the problematic frozen pipe.
British Gas has provided some guidance to locate the specific pipe:
“If you have a modern condensing boiler, it’ll most likely be your condensate pipe.
“This will be a plastic one that comes out of your boiler – find where it goes outside to see if it’s frosted over.
“Unfortunately, any outdoor pipe can be at risk during icy weather, as are the ones that pass through any cold spots in the house – like lofts, basements and cupboards that sit on external walls.”
Defrost the pipe
Once you have located the pipe, you must thaw it to restore service.
“Slowly pour hot (but never boiling) water over the frozen pipe and place a hot water bottle over it to help melt away the ice.”
They offer a helpful video that demonstrates how to accomplish things the right way.
What if a pipe bursts in my home?
Leaks can be of any size or form. A leak may cause the bathroom to fill with water, but there may also be a small, gradual leak that has to be found and may cause long-term harm.
This is how to identify them:
- There will be issues with your speed of water flow or pressure.
- Keep an eye out for any water stains or spots that may form on the walls or ceilings.
- Another warning indicator is bulging walls or ceilings.
- Damp areas on the floor.
What if I experience a flood or leak?
Stay calm and adhere to some basic rules because this might lead to serious panic.
Immediately switch off the water supply.
British Gas has said: “You’ll need to turn the stopcock valve to close off your water supply – and don’t turn it back on until a plumber has fixed things.
“If you’re not sure where your stopcock is, try looking under the kitchen sink or in a cupboard – possibly even one outdoors.
“You’ll need to switch off your central heating too.
“If the leak is coming from outside your property and you can’t turn off the water supply, you’ll need to find and contact your water supplier.”
Turn on all the taps
British Gas has offered the correct guidance below:
“You’ll need to get all the water out the pipes quickly so it can drain away without causing too much damage.
“Turn on all the taps in your home, allow the water to drain completely until there’s nothing left, then turn them off.”
Soak up the excess water
When a pipe bursts, water can cause serious spillages.
Ensure that excess water is collected using a mop or old towels.
British Gas suggests: “To limit the damage, get a few old towels and soak up any water that’s escaped from the burst pipe.
“And if you’ve got standing water in your home, your insurance company will let you know what to do next.”
Keep electronic devices dry and protected
According to British Gas, in the event electronic devices have contact with water, you should immediately disconnect them from the main power supply.
“If there’s a chance that any electrics have got wet, turn the power off at the mains.”
“Let them dry off completely and have them checked by a qualified electrician before turning them back on.”
Contact your home insurance company
If serious damage occurs to your property due to frozen or burst pipes, your home insurance company should be immediately contacted.
British Gas advises: “Most insurers have a 24-hour emergency helpline, so call them as soon as you can.
“Take photos of any damage and find the receipts (or other proof of purchase, like bank statements) for damaged belongings.
“Then your insurer will tell you what to do next.”
Contact a licensed plumber
If in doubt about the severity of the frozen/burst pipes situation, you may consider contacting a professional.
British Gas has said to find a fully qualified plumber to investigate the issue.
“Always find a fully qualified plumber to carry out repairs, otherwise it may cost you more time and money in the long run.
“Water.org.uk has an up-to-date list of registered emergency plumbers near you.
“While you wait, you can make a temporary repair by binding the pipe tightly with a cloth or heavy-duty tape.
“But don’t be tempted to do this in place of a professional repair – it won’t last long.”