Don't get caught cold in your home

Lagged your pipes and checked your stop tap? Now is the time to prepare your home for cold weather.

More than two thirds of our customers who took part in a recent Twitter poll had never lagged pipes before, despite lagging material being available at most DIY stores.

Predicting when temperatures will plummet is no easy task, so taking simple steps now can help avoid the misery of flooding caused by frozen and burst water pipes.

Director of water supply Ashlea Lane said: "Our customers' water supplies were not interrupted when the 'Beast from the East' brought snow and freezing weather last March - unlike in many other parts of the UK.

"But we did give help and advice to more than 1,500 people who had problems in their home, with many of them reporting frozen or burst pipes."

We've drawn up a checklist of 10 jobs for the home and garden to help ensure its customers don't get caught cold.

  1. Find your stop tap: Do you know where your stop tap is, what it does and if it's working? The stop tap turns off your water supply and should be closed if a pipe bursts in your home. Most stop taps are fitted under the kitchen sink and can be closed by turning clockwise. 
  2. Lag your pipes: You should insulate your water tank and lag the pipes in unheated areas like your loft or garage. Measure lagging carefully to make sure there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings. Wear gloves as the material can cause skin irritation.
  3. Cover your outside tap: Water and frost proof covers are an effective way of protecting your outside tap from the cold. These are also available from DIY stores.
  4. Emergency contact: Keep the name and number of a qualified WaterSafe plumber handy in case of emergencies.
  5. Fix dripping taps: Even the smallest trickle can result in a frozen pipe. Fix dripping taps or overflows to protect your home - and save water.
  6. Keep the heating on low if you're going away or your home is likely to be unoccupied for long periods.
  7. Service your boiler and central heating regularly and check you have adequate insulation in your roof.
  8. Bleed your radiators regularly to release trapped air and place foil behind them to reflect heat back into the room.
  9. Scoop up leaves from your guttering to ensure they are draining properly
  10. Drain and clean your water butt to it's ready to fill up with winter rain.   

We're continuing our programme of repairing leaks and renewing ageing pipes on our network, while investment in a new multi-million water supply grid means it's now possible to transfer water to where it's needed most when extreme weather strikes.

Ashlea said: "Believe it or not, our preparations for cold weather start in August of every year when we ensure we have the right vehicles and equipment in place for engineers to fix problems and help customers should we face extreme conditions.

"Careful planning from ourselves and our customers will go a long way towards beating the cold this winter."