The UK weather has been somewhat unpredictable in recent weeks with glorious sun turning in to freak snow falls in the blink of an eye. Aside from worrying about whether or not you should put on your snow boots, you need to make sure your home can handle the shock changes in the weather and avoid the unwanted surprise of frozen pipes.

One thing that can truly suffer from the extreme cold weather is pipes. When water freezes in pipes it creates immense pressure and can cause them to rupture and spill a huge amount of water potentially causing great damage to your home.

The main places that your pipes are most at risk are in an unheated space, on an outside wall or connected to an outside sink, so what can you do to prevent or treat frozen pipes?

If your pipes are frozen but not burst there are a few things you can do to avoid them bursting. If you think that you have a frozen pipe then you must treat it straight away.

If your pipe has burst then turn off your water supply immediately.

  • Turn on the tap that is connected to the frozen pipe.
  • Follow the pipe to identify the frozen section. Sometimes the pipe will have ice on it or could be bulky, but sometimes the pipe may be concealed within a wall.
  • If the frozen pipe is behind a wall turn up the heating and wait for it to take effect. If it doesn’t work then you may want to speak to a professional for further advice.
  • If the frozen pipe is exposed it’s important to remember that when applying heat to the pipe make sure you open the faucet and work from the tap end towards the frozen area so that the water can slowly melt from the tap.
  • Use a hairdryer first to melt the frozen water – if this doesn’t work you can use heat lamps or portable heaters.
  • If none of the above suggestions work then contact a professional for further advice.

Once you have dealt with your frozen pipe you need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again:

  • Insulate your pipes! If you have pipes that run through unheated areas makes sure they are protected from the freezing weather.
  • Place a heater (if the pipe is in the house) in the space where the problem pipe is located.
  • Wrap the pipe in electrical heat tape.

The most important things to remember are:

  • If the pipe is swollen or burst turn off the water main source.
  • If the pipe is behind a concealed wall and not defrosting contact a professional.
  • Always defrost from the tap end of the frozen section first.