Frozen Pipes – How to Protect Pipes From Freezing

Frozen Pipes

During the winter months, I’d advise that if you have an empty property, or a tenant in occupation, there are a few simple measures to protect against frozen pipes and burst pipes which could lead to thousands of pounds in damages to your rental property.

Why do frozen pipes burst?

If the house gets too cold, the water in your pipes can freeze overnight and then burst in the day when it warms back up.  When the frozen pipes warm up again, this could cause flooding and water damage to your home.

The pipes that are most susceptible to freeze are of course the pipes that have the most exposure to the cold such as taps in gardens, garages and sheds.

How do I know if I have frozen pipes?

Simple, water runs very slowly, if at all, from the tap. If this is the case, try and identify where the pipe is likely to be frozen, this is usually where the pipe is exposed to the most cold. To warm up the pipe, you can use a hair dryer, heat lamp or electrical heat pad.  You must remember to keep the taps open as running water will help to thaw out the ice quicker.

DO NOT use a flame device such as a gas burner to warm up the pipes.  If the ice is heated too quickly, there is a danger it could explode.

How do I stop my pipes from freezing?

  • If you have an outdoor water supply such as a tap in the garden, hopefully you will have a stop valve on the inside of the property.  If you do, open up the tap on the outside, close the valve on the inside and drain the pipe, making sure that there is no water remaining in the pipe.
  • If you have a garden sprinkler system, ensure that the system is completely drained and insulate any pipes that may be prone to damage with pipe insulation available from most DIY stores.
  • Make sure that even if the property is vacant, the heating is set to not go any lower than around 12 degrees Celsius.  It is tempting to turn the heating right down when the property is vacant to save on gas and electricity bills however, the cost involved from burst pipes is a lot higher.
  • If you do experience flooding, keep an eye out for black mould which can often be more damaging to the property than the flooding itself.

If you have a property that is tenanted, be sure to write to your tenants explaining the dangers of frozen pipes and what precautions they should take to prevent such damage.

If your property is empty during the winter months, be sure to check out when is the best time of year to let a property.

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