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Advice for the cold, winter months

What precautions can you take to protect your home from the cold weather?


Question:     Why do pipes sometimes burst in cold weather?

Answer:       Because ice takes up more space than water.


When water freezes, the ice that forms takes up 10% more space than the water. If the water in your pipes freezes, the resulting ice needs more space. If there's nowhere else for it to go, it will push against the walls of the pipe, and can actually cause the pipe to split. Usually, the first time you know that it's happened is when the weather warms up again and that ice melts. Then, you'll find water coming out of the damaged pipe. 

If you have an outside tap it's worth taking a few simple precautions. If there's an isolator valve so you can turn off the supply to that tap, do so. Then open the tap to drain the water out of the pipe and tap. Then if it does ice up, there's minimal water in there to freeze and cause damage. Some people put insulation over the tap and any exposed pipework too. 

If you plan to go away for a few days and the forecast is for very cold weather, you might want to consider having the heating come on for a while to keep it from getting too cold.

If you're going to be away for a longer period and don't want to heat the house, you should consider turning off the water and even emptying out the storage cisterns. Many insurance companies require this if the property will be unoccupied for an extended period.


This advice is given as general guidance only. No liability can be accepted for incidents arising from this advice. If you are not sure, call a professional plumber. If you're local, please try me first!