Cold weather advice

Cold weather advice

Prepare your pipes for winter

It’s important to protect your home from cold weather to beat the freeze.

Before winter starts to bite, you should:

  • find your internal stop tap and check it's working
  • protect pipes in cold areas by covering them with lagging
  • cover your outside tap to protect it from the cold
  • get your boiler serviced
  • keep your heating on low if you go away.

Don’t forget to have the number of a qualified plumber handy in case of an emergency – Watersafe is an online directory of approved plumbers.

For weather warnings and advice, see the Met Office. 

How to find and check your stop tap

Your internal stop tap is usually found under your kitchen sink or in an adjoining garage. 

Make sure it hasn't seized up by turning it on and off several times.

Then, turn fully on and back half a turn.

It's important that you can find your stop tap and that it is working so you can turn off your supply in an emergency. 

If your stop tap isn't working, call a qualified plumber.

Remember to test it every 6 - 12 months.

How to lag pipes  

To prevent a burst in the winter, use lagging to protect pipes in draughty areas such as attics, garages and outbuildings. 

Available from most hardware shops and large DIY stores, lagging is a foam material made to wrap around pipes. 

You will need:

  • foam tubing called lagging
  • a measuring tape
  • a utility knife
  • and gloves.

Step 1: Measure the length of pipe you wish to cover.

Step 2: Mark the correct length on the lagging and carefully cut the lagging with a utility knife.

Step 3: Place the lagging onto the pipe.

When lagging your pipes, remember:

  • a 15mm pipe needs 32mm of lagging
  • larger pipes need less - 19mm to 25mm of lagging 
  • to cover all joints and bends 
  • to keep lagging dry inside and use water proof insulation outside 
  • insulation will only delay freezing about eight hours in exposed areas. 

Don't put insulation underneath the storage tank in your loft or attic.

Frozen pipe advice

What to do if you have a frozen pipe

If you think you have a frozen pipe: 

  • turn off your internal stop tap - usually found in your kitchen 
  • partly turn on any affected taps until the pipes have thawed
  • thaw the frozen pipe using a hot water pipe or warm towels 

Once pipes or the taps have thawed turn on the water supply at the internal stop tap. 

For further help and advice, call a qualified plumber.