Take steps to protect empty buildings

Wessex Water is urging owners of unoccupied buildings such as village halls, factories or even offices to check for bursts and leaks as the freezing weather continues over the coming days.

With many buildings not being used due to current Covid-19 restrictions, inside temperatures might not be maintained as normal – meaning pipes could be more susceptible to freezing or bursting. There is also a risk that leaks could go undetected, causing costly damage.

Wessex Water says some business owners may be unaware where the internal stop tap is located or if it is working, which can lead to problems isolating the water supply in an emergency.

Ensuring the stop tap can be found and turned off is crucial, along with preventative measures such as insulating water tanks and exposed pipes with lagging and fixing any dripping taps.

Paul Damon, director of supply networks and leakage at Wessex Water, said: “If pipes are exposed to the cold and are not properly insulated, they are more likely to freeze during a cold spell.

“This happens because water expands when it freezes and causes an increase in pressure inside of your pipe, which is why they sometimes burst.

"If no water or only a trickle of water comes out of your cold tap, you could have a frozen pipe. You may also notice some frost on the outside of the pipe.”

Homeowners are also being reminded to protect any pipes in exposed areas, and Wessex Water is asking customers not to leave outdoor taps slowly running – a practice that some people do in an attempt to stop pipework from freezing.

Below is a step-by-step guide to help you thaw frozen pipes and avoid a burst:

  1. Turn off your internal stop tap (normally under the kitchen sink) to prevent pressure build-up.
  2. Partly turn on any affected taps to relieve pressure.
  3. Thaw the frozen pipe using a hot water bottle and warm towels.
  4. Once thawed, turn your water supply back on.

View our cold weather advice, including tutorial videos on how to locate your stop tap and apply lagging.