Protect your pipes in winter

You may be tackling the chilly mornings by turning up the heating, wearing extra layers and defrosting your car, but is your business ready for winter?

All businesses rely on water, whether it’s part of production processes or for everyday use. But cold weather can cause your water pipes to freeze and burst. This is often very expensive to repair and extremely stressful. The damage caused may even mean the temporary or permanent closure of your business.

With many businesses away for the Christmas period, it’s important to take precautions to avoid coming back to flooded premises in the new year - and understand what to do if there is a problem.

Protect your pipes

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you're prepared during the winter months.

Know where your stop tap is

If a pipe freezes or bursts, you’ll need to switch off your water quickly. Find out where your internal stop tap is and check that it works, so that you’re confident you can turn off the water supply should you need to.

Lag pipes and minimise draughts

Wrapping your water pipes in insulation – known as lagging – helps keep them warm and prevent freezing. It also reduces heat loss from heating and hot water pipes, which can save on your energy bill.

Try to lag all your pipework (you can buy lagging material from most DIY stores) and make sure there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings. Pay special attention to unheated areas.

You should also cover any gaps in doors and windows to stop cold air getting in.

Keep the heating on low

Check your boiler, as most modern boilers have a frost protection setting which means they will automatically turn on the heating if the temperature drops below 5°C. If your boiler doesn’t have this function and your business is going to be closed for an extended period of time, then leave the heating on low. This will reduce the risk of pipes getting cold enough to freeze. Remember to check unoccupied premises regularly or ask someone to check them for you.

What to do if your pipes freeze

  1. Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
  2. Check to see whether the pipe has burst
  3. Slowly thaw the pipe with a hot water bottle or towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest the tap. Never try to thaw frozen pipes with a naked flame or blowtorch
  4. If you can’t thaw the pipe, contact an approved plumber as soon as possible

What to do if your pipes burst

  1. Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
  2. Turn off the heating
  3. Turn off the electricity (especially if water has leaked near electrics or appliances)
  4. Open all taps to drain the system
  5. Soak up or block any escaping water with thick towels
  6. Contact an approved plumber as soon as possible

Who to contact in an emergency

You’re generally responsible for all pipework up to the boundary of your premises. That means it will usually be up to you to get a frozen or burst pipe fixed. Find a local plumber who is approved by WaterSafe and keep their details handy so you can contact them quickly in an emergency.

Find an approved plumber

If there is an issue outside the boundary of your premises or other disruption to your water supply, then you should contact your wholesaler.

How we can help

As a water retailer, we offer a range of services to help you manage your water, such as consumption investigation (including how to locate your internal stop tap), leakage find-and-fix and contingency planning.

Get in touch to find out how we can help your business.

By Will N.    |    24 December 2019