With winter approaching, your heating and plumbing systems are going to be under more strain than at any other time of the year. You’ve probably already turned on your heating and are perhaps running more hot water for baths and showers.
If something goes wrong with your system, you can be left for hours or even days without heating and hot water, which isn’t pleasant in the depths of winter. What should do if you think you have a burst pipe? How can you spot the problem, and what can you do to try to prevent frozen pipes in the winter?
What to do if you have a burst pipe
You will generally notice some signs that a there is a problem with a pipe. You might find that very little or no water is coming from a tap when you turn it on or that the water pressure or temperature seem low. Depending on where your pipes are located, you may be able to check for any signs of ice externally or a drip that would indicate it has actually burst.
If it’s simply frozen, you might be able to thaw it yourself, but be careful not to heat it too quickly or you run the risk of it bursting.
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How to prevent a frozen or burst pipe
One of the most important things you can do to help prevent problems is to make sure that your boiler is serviced regularly; once a year is recommended.
Make sure your pipes and hot water tank, if you have one, are well insulated. You can buy lagging from DIY stores and do this yourself. If you’re going away for any period of time, make sure you leave your heating switched on at around 14 degrees rather than switching it off entirely. Isolate external taps and fix any dripping taps.
The Met Office also provides some useful hints and tips about how to prevent a burst pipe.
Be prepared for the worst. Check that you know where your stopcock is and that you can turn it off if needed. Keep a supply of clean drinking water and the number of a good plumber on hand.