Top tips to avoid frozen pipes this winter

When the weather gets colder there’s a real risk that water in one or more of your pipes could freeze – especially if your home is left empty for a while. If a pipe freezes, it can expand and burst. If water escapes, it can then cause serious damage to your property, including flooding and broken boilers.

The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your pipes wreaking havoc this winter should we experience a big freeze.

Keep your heating on

A good way to protect your pipes during the colder months is by keeping your heating on constant, but at a lower-than-normal temperature. If you’re lucky enough to be heading off on holiday over winter, keep the heating on at a low temperature (around 12°C-15°C). Also keep your loft hatch open slightly to let the warmer air circulate, as this can prevent pipes in your loft from freezing.

Check insulation

Make sure insulation is in place on water pipes, and in your loft and other areas of water storage, such as a water tank. The more insulated your pipes are, the better protected they will be.

Report dripping taps

Report dripping taps to us as soon as possible. If you don’t do this and the tap freezes, it may block the pipe and cause damage.

Leave cabinet doors open

Keep the doors on kitchen and bathroom cabinets open, as this will allow warmer air to circulate and reach pipes that are under sinks and next to the outside wall.

Thaw out frozen pipes

If a pipe has frozen, thaw it out gently using hot water bottles or a hairdryer. Yes really!

What should you do if you discover your pipes have burst?

If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, first check if your neighbours have water, as it could be an issue with the local supply.

If they do have water, you need to act. First off, turn off the stopcock, and then call us so we can arrange for a plumber to fix the problem with your pipes.

Outside taps

If there is an isolation valve to the outside tap, turn the water off and then leave the tap open to prevent the pipe freezing to the tap.

Check your insurance cover

All of this should serve as a timely reminder to ensure you have adequate home insurance in place to protect your home during the winter months. Dig out your paperwork and check you are covered for common incidents such as burst pipes. That said, it is worth double-checking the small print, as burst pipes may not be covered as standard when properties are left unoccupied without heat, or unfurnished.

  • My Home contents insurance is a special insurance scheme provided by the National Housing Federation in conjunction with Thistle Tenant Risks and Allianz Insurance plc and is available for our customers living in social and affordable housing. There’s no excess and they offer flexible regular premium payment options. To find out more or to sign up, visit