FROST PROTECTION FOR TENANTS
REDUCING THE RISK OF FROZEN PIPES
It is your responsibility as tenant to take appropriate steps to protect the property to prevent damage to the system.
All properties are at risk from freezing pipes in the lowest of temperatures and whilst it might not happen it certainly doesn’t hurt to take a few precautions before it does. Doing so could save you an awful lot of time, discomfort and money not to mention an increase in your contents insurance premium if the worst happens.
So before you’re affected by frozen and burst pipes take a moment to read these tips and advice, at least you’ll be prepared for the worst.
- Check your insurances to see if you are covered for emergency repairs.
- Keep the name and number of a couple of reputable plumbers handy in case of emergency.
- Find your main stop taps for the supply into your property, these are usually located in kitchens, ground floor bathrooms or where the ‘mains’ enters your property. Check to make sure they work properly – don’t wait until you need them to find out a valve won’t turn. It’s a good idea to label them one you’ve located them as you may not be the one who has to turn them off.
- Outside stop valves (where the supply branches off to your property from the street) are usually best left to the local authority. They have specialist tools in case of a frozen pipe that renders the valve inoperative. Remember though that you are responsible for the pipework the moment it enters your boundary.
- Maintain a low heat in your property, this can help you avoid many problems especially at weekends when the property is likely to be empty.
- Dripping taps are a sign of problems and repairs should be made straight away especially hot water taps – you’re heating water just to let it go down the drain!
- Pay special attention to outside taps in making sure they are well insulated (including the pipework) or better still, isolate them by turning off their stop tap during the winter (usually located on the inside wall adjacent to where the supply pipe exits the wall).
- Leave any loft hatches slightly open to allow warm air to enter the loft space which will prevent the loft space from freezing. Many properties have insulation fitted but you may find the space under the main loft tanks is absent of insulation, this is deliberate to allow more warmth to escape to that area.
- Check the insulation is secure, check lagging around tanks is wrapped in place and pipework is not exposed.
- Protect the pipework that leads to your water meter as unfortunately they seem to have a knack of being positioned in places especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures.
IF THE WORST HAPPENS
If you think you may be suffering from frozen pipes, check with a neighbour to see if their supply is also affected, if they have running water then the problem may be frozen pipes in your property.
Check for signs of splitting in the pipes, if a pipe is damaged, it won’t show until the pipe thaws and water can run freely again.
Switch off central heating and any water heating appliances (immersion heater etc), turn off the water supply at the main stop tap inside the property. Drain your system by flushing toilets and opening the cold taps over sinks and baths making sure the plugs are removed!
If pipes are intact use hot water bottles or heated cloths laid over the frozen pipe to thaw them out. Never apply a direct flame and beware of using electric hair dryers or fans as if water does suddenly escape you run the risk of electrocution! It’s recommended you start thawing a pipe at the end nearest a tap.
Once you’ve thawed out the pipe/s affected and you’re satisfied there was no damage to the pipe itself and there’s no sign of any leaking, close the tap nearest to where you were working and slowly open the main stop tap. Check your work as now the system is under pressure.
Once you’re satisfied there are no leaks you can switch on central heating and other water heaters. Don’t do this until you’re sure the system is completely thawed out as there could be a risk of explosion if heat is suddenly applied after freezing has occurred.Back to News