Frozen Pipes - How to Protect Pipes From Freezing

By Jonathan Daines

Frozen pipe outside a house

Frozen Pipes – How to Protect Pipes From Freezing

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 to 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 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.

About Jonathan Daines

As Founder and CEO since 2008, Jonathan’s passion for property, technology and entrepreneurship inspired the creation and innovation of LettingaProperty.com. With the support of a dedicated team of industry professionals, for the past 11 years he has built a digital marketplace offering low-cost services that empowers landlords and tenants to let and rent property with ease.

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Frozen Pipes - How to Protect Your Pipes From Freezing
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Frozen Pipes - How to Protect Your Pipes From Freezing
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Frozen pipes occur when the property gets too cold and the water in your pipes freeze overnight and then burst in the day when it warms back up. 
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LettingaProperty.com
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72 Comments

    June 11, 2014 REPLY

    Hello- could I please get the standard letter/clause to send to my tenants or put in the new contract, regarding pipes freezing up. Thank you

    January 2, 2014 REPLY

    Hello- could I please get the standard letter to send to my tenants regarding pipes freezing up. Thank you!!

    November 22, 2013 REPLY

    Useful advice, please could you send me your standard letter to send to tenants.
    Thank you

    November 20, 2013 REPLY

    Well explained information please do send me the letter for our information

    January 23, 2013 REPLY

    Great advise, please send me the letter to send to our tenants..

    January 17, 2012 REPLY

    Good advice, please could you send me your standard letter to send to tenants.
    Thank you.

    December 12, 2011 REPLY

    Please would you send me a copy of the letter for tenants regarding winter weather precautions. Many thanks

    December 8, 2011 REPLY

    Any advice is helpful. Thanks

    December 8, 2011 REPLY

    Great article – Could you please send me an email copy of the letter?

    December 8, 2011 REPLY

    Please send me a copy of the letter

    December 7, 2011 REPLY

    Hi, Could you please send me a copy of the letter regarding frozen pipes. Thanks.

    December 5, 2011 REPLY

    Please send me the standard letter for tenants re winter weather precautions

    November 30, 2011 REPLY

    Could you please send me a copy of the letter regarding frozen pipes?

    November 28, 2011 REPLY

    I would like to request a copy of letter regarding frozen pipes. Thank you.

    November 16, 2011 REPLY

    This article was good… can you send me a sample letter on preventing frozen pipes? Thanks

    October 6, 2011 REPLY

    Please would you send me a copy of the letter for tenants regarding winter weather precautions. Many thanks.

    August 25, 2011 REPLY

    Can you please send me a copy of the letter regarding the frozen pipes please.

    Letting a Property
    December 22, 2010 REPLY

    Letter on it’s way!

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    please forward me a letter.Much appreciated.

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    Please send copy of your “preventing frozen pipes” tenant letter. Thank you.

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    please send me a copy letter, this weather is a nightmare

    thank you

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    Hi, Could you please send me a copy of the letter regarding frozen pipes. Thanks.

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    Hi, Please may I have a copy of the winter letter. I too have tenants who have have reported that their pipes have frozen. The pipes are insulated but have still frozen. We have advised the tenants to use a hair drier but the response was “we can’t be bothered…”
    What are our responsibilities as landlords?
    thanks

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    I would love a copy if the letter please

    December 21, 2010 REPLY

    Thanks for the advice.

    December 20, 2010 REPLY

    please can i have a copy of the letter/? many thanks

    December 20, 2010 REPLY

    hi wondered if could get a copy of this letter to give to my tennents thanks

    December 20, 2010 REPLY

    please could you email me a copy of letter to send to tenants thanks

    December 9, 2010 REPLY

    Landlords make sure your agent sends out a letter to your Tenant, on what to do in the event of frozen pipes,some agents dont care and remember its no use blaming the Tenant if the pipes are not lagged properly. If you let out older property the chance is there is very little lagging on the pipes, winter has just begun. Keep warm and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS..

    December 9, 2010 REPLY

    I would appreciate a copy of the letter please.

    December 8, 2010 REPLY

    Tenants do not listen alot of the time an ddue to the weather, I woudl liek to put something in writing to ensure that they are aware of how to help in this weather

    Letting a Property
    December 3, 2010 REPLY

    Letter on its way!

    December 2, 2010 REPLY

    I would appreciate a copy of the letter to send to our tenants
    thank you

    December 2, 2010 REPLY

    Please, please forward me a copy of the letter. Tina

    December 2, 2010 REPLY

    Your website is great! I finally found the answers I needed about how landlords can inform their tenants on how to take the necessary steps to prevent freezing pipes.
    Could you please send me a copy of your letter?
    I would greatly appreciate it.

    November 30, 2010 REPLY

    Good advice

    May 10, 2010 REPLY

    Hi there
    I had my property managed and the tenants moved out in January. the letting agent did the move out and turned the stop cock off (allegedly!) but it turned out they didn’t as the property subsequently flooded due to burst water pipes when thawed. Unfortunately for me I had let my buildings insurance lapse. The letting agent have agreed to pay half the cost of the damage under their insurance but I am wondering if they should be fully responsible or if I am lucky to getting that at all, as it was my responsibility?

    I would appreciate a reply thank you

    January 26, 2010 REPLY

    My landlord is trying to say that the fact a pipe froze in my flat and burst is my fault. there is no central heating in the flat to have been left on and i was only gone for 3 days. how liable am i with this damage?

    January 11, 2010 REPLY

    2 years ago , i had a tenant who went out for the day without turning on the heating in sub zero temperatures. Consequently, the pipe burst in the loft causing over £5000 worth of damage… this took over 4 month to repair and dry out… if you are a landlord, i urge you to check your insurance carefully for cover in this situation (especially the excess for burst pipes), check lagging around pipes is the best you can buy etc… don’t let this happen to you… it is one of the worst things i have had to deal with as a landlord…
    PS. please could i have a copy of your letter.. thanks

    January 9, 2010 REPLY

    thank you for the advice

    January 8, 2010 REPLY

    My tennants did not tell me they had no water from last night. I have another property in the building which I checked last night and the pipes have frozen – seemingly for the whole building with the current sub zero temp. I contacted my other tennants today at which point they said they had no water since last night. I arranged a plumber to come out tonight through the property factor and he has said that nothing can be done now that the pipes have frozen and we will have to wait. Tennants are now saying they are moving out for good in one week as they can’t live without water. This was after I offered showers at my place and bottles of water to use in the flat. Where do I as the landlord stand with this?

    January 8, 2010 REPLY

    Experiencing the coldest weather in N Ireland for 50 years so I would appreciate a copy of the letter for my tenants.

    January 6, 2010 REPLY

    this was helpful. please send a copy of the letter. Thanks

    January 5, 2010 REPLY

    Thanks for the post. I ran across this site as I was trying to google. We have tenants who have notified us that the pipes frozen and they are afraid the pipes are going to bust. They have been letting the water drip to keep the pipes from freezing. Our contract simply states, if there is a water leak or excessive water bill due to their negligence, or failing to contact us, it is their responsbility to fix the issue. I am furious that they have taken the necessary measures to keep their pipes from freezing. Are we responsible for the repairs?

    January 5, 2010 REPLY

    I would appreciate a copy of the letter for my tenant please.

    Kind Regards

    January 2, 2010 REPLY

    i’d be grateful for a copy of the letter please. Thanks

    December 29, 2009 REPLY

    this is really helpful. Please email me the letter. thx

    December 22, 2009 REPLY

    My property ‘s pipes burst last week because the tenant was not home during the cold day. Should I write something into the agreement to tell tenant that they are responsible for it?

    December 19, 2009 REPLY

    i might go crazy if i don’t get a good letter to deal with my tenants, that is my comment 🙂 Thank You

    December 15, 2009 REPLY

    I would be grateful for a copy of the letter. Many thanks.

    Letting a Property
    December 15, 2009 REPLY

    Letters are on their way – dont forget we do a pack of property management documents containing 38 letters that are very helpful when managing your own property

    December 14, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks for the article & the insightful answers to people’s questions.
    Could I please have a copy of the letter? Thanks!

    December 7, 2009 REPLY

    hi. i’d be very keen to see a copy of this letter please – we have a flat that we rent and last year we had a few pipe issues over christmas. many thanks!

    November 22, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks for the letter

    November 19, 2009 REPLY

    Please send a copy of the letter – thanks!!

    February 6, 2009 REPLY

    Have narrowly averted a disaster of the “flood” type so would appreciate a copy of the appropriate letter !

    Letting a Property
    January 16, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks, on its way over!

    January 16, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks of sharing beautiful article. Please send me a copy of thie letter.

    Letting a Property
    January 14, 2009 REPLY

    You’re welcome, letter on its way!

    January 13, 2009 REPLY

    good article. please may I have a copy of this letter? thanks

    January 13, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks for the helpful info. Please send me a copy of the Tenanst Letter.

    Letting a Property
    January 9, 2009 REPLY

    No probs, on its way!

    January 9, 2009 REPLY

    Thanks for the info., could you mail me a copy of the letter please.

    Letting a Property
    January 9, 2009 REPLY

    Jan, there are 2 points here:
    1) In “letting law” the Landlord always has a ‘duty of care’ to their tenants – this would include keeping the supply of water and heating in good repair and in working order.
    The question that you must answer is, “Did I do all that is reasonable, and in the interest of my duty of care to the tenant, to ensure that the supply to the pipes / tank in the loft were in proper order and sufficiently protected from frost damage?”
    For example, if you knew that the tank was old and the pipes were not insulated and you failed to act on it, then the answer would probably be – no. In that case, the Judge may see it that you failed in your obligations as a Landlord. If the answer is yes, then the Judge may view the case differently.
    2) The Tenant also has a duty to act in a ‘tenant-like-manner’. In the case of Warren v Keen, 1953 – Lord Denning stated:
    “The Tenant must take proper care of the premises. He must, if he is going away for the winter, turn off the water and empty the boiler; he must clean chimneys when necessary and also the windows; he must mend the electric light when it fuses; he must unstop the sink when it is blocked by his waste. In short, he must do the little jobs around the house which a reasonable tenant would do. In addition, he must not damage the house wilfully or negligently..but, apart from such things, if the house falls into disrepair through fair wear and tear or lapse of time or for any reason not caused by him, the tenant is not liable to repair it.”
    Each case is looked upon differently and should your case be brought to the courts, then I would advise you seek legal assistance – and check the small print of your insurance policy.

    January 9, 2009 REPLY

    Our tenants were away from our property for almost a week over the new year period. An exceptionally cold time. During that time they timed the heating to come on for only two and a half hours a day.
    They did not turn the water off to cover for this spell and subsequently a burst pipe has caused considerable damage. Ironically we only found the leak ourselves when we hand delivered a letter to them requesting they leave the heating on for a few hours each day and turn off the water before they left for a trip of three weeks saw water gushing from the loft.
    They had four days to clear their belongings before leaving for holiday but they now say this has not been long enough for the amount of possessions, and have brought in specialist packers for items in the loft which has meant two removals companies involved and therefore we think they are going to take legal action against us relating to the delay to their holiday and other expenses.
    Where do we stand? We have told them that they can leave their car and our garage is stacked full of their property on site until it is convenient for them to move it but the insurance co insisted the property be emptied.

    Letting a Property
    January 7, 2009 REPLY

    Hi Nichola, thanks for the post.
    Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it is the Landlord’s responsibility to maintain the installations for the supply of services such as heating, plumbing, sanitation, electricity, gas and water as well as maintain the external construction of the property such as external pipes, brickwork etc.
    In this case, we would suggest that it will ultimately be the Landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the pipes are well protected during the colder months and should also ensure that at the start of the tenancy there is:
    a clause in the agreement saying that the tenant must inform the landlord if they are to be out of the property for more than 2 weeks and if the tenant is away for a long periods of time, they leave the heating on as to prevent frozen pipes.

    If the tenant neglects these clauses then the Landlord would have a strong case to claim damages.

    January 7, 2009 REPLY

    What a good idea thanks.
    If there was no letter and tenants let the property cool down, who’s responsibility is it?

    January 6, 2009 REPLY

    thanks for the letter

    December 19, 2008 REPLY

    hello, I would like a copy of the letter to send to my tenants – not sure if they are aware of their responsibilities. Thank you. Sandra W

    December 19, 2008 REPLY

    Can you email me the tenant letter – ta Paul

    December 19, 2008 REPLY

    Hi there, please could you send me the winter letter, i have a property that i let out to tenants. thankx, jo

    December 19, 2008 REPLY

    Thanks for the letter!

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