Cold weather can have a BIG impact on your business and cause your water pipes to burst or freeze. Take a look at our advice on what to do if this happens.
If a pipe freezes
- Turn off the water supply at the stop tap check to see if the pipe has burst
- Open the affected tap. Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles or a warm towel, starting at the end nearest the tap. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch to thaw the pipe
- Don’t leave taps dripping or running as the water may not drain down the plughole if the pipe below is frozen
If a pipe bursts
- Turn off the stop tap and boiler
- Open all taps to drain the system quickly
- Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
- Call a qualified plumber. Local water industry recommended plumbers can be found at watersafe.org.uk or 0333 207 9030
if water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them on at the mains turn off taps once pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding
If your premises is currently unoccupied, it's especially important to make sure it's protected from the cold to avoid leaks, bursts and damage to the property. Follow our easy steps to avoid any unnecessary stress and expense this winter:
#1 Insulate, insulate, insulate
Protecting your pipes may be the last thing on your mind, but it really is essential to prepare your business to prevent bursts.
We recommend covering all of your water pipes – including those outside – with a foam tube called lagging. It's cheap, easy to fit and available from most DIY stores. Just remember to use waterproof lagging for any outdoor pipes.
It's also important to repair any leaks at taps or valves as soon as possible, as dripping water increases the risk of freezing.
Last but not least, ensure your water tank is fitted with an insulation jacket or wrapped with suitable insulation material. Water pipes, tanks or toilet cisterns in unheated outbuildings or exposed places should also be insulated. If they're not in use over the winter period, have them drained.
#2 Keep your business nice and toasty
If you can, try to keep the premises snug at all times by keeping the heating on a low setting. Try putting draught excluders on doors or a thin sheet of card with tinfoil behind radiators (this will reflect heat back into the room, meaning it warms up faster and retains more heat).
If the property is vacant over winter, turn off the water supply and drain the system.
If you're closing up for a period of time, ensure someone can visit regularly to check for any problems.
#3 Bleed the radiators
Trapped air causes radiators to have cold spots, reducing their efficiency. You can bleed your radiators yourself using a radiator key or a flat screwdriver (depending on your valve type) and slowly turning the valve counter clockwise until water starts dripping out. This will release trapped air and let hot water in – making your business warmer and giving you cheaper energy bills.
#4 Be prepared
Make sure you know where your stop tap is, as you may need to turn your water off quickly if your pipes freeze or burst. It's also a good idea to have the name and number of a qualified plumber to hand so if your pipes do freeze or burst you can call them straight away.
#5 Check insurance cover
You are responsible for the maintenance of all the pipework in your business including the underground pipe that brings water into your building, so check to see if this is covered on your insurance.
#6 Have a contingency plan
Have an emergency plan and an emergency kit ready which includes important contact numbers and a supply of fresh, clean drinking water.
If you are a landowner, please check outside pipes and taps during freezing weather, especially if there has been a long period of cold weather and a sudden thaw so any repairs can be made quickly to save your water.
Advice for farmowners
Fixing and insulating dripping taps ready for freezing tempertures can help to ensure water supplies to sheds and outdoor troughs aren't interrupted during the winter. It's also important to identify where your stop valves are located and install them to isolate water supplies in areas of the farm you don’t use during the winter. This will help to prevent bursts and leaks.
Make sure you know the layout of your land’s pipework and keep a map of it handy so you know where to look if there is a problem. This will help repairs happen quickly and save you water and money. You should always keep a plumbers number handy incase of emergencies. To find an approved plumber in your area, we recommend WaterSafe. Visit www.watersafe.org.uk or call 0333 207 9030.
Download and share our winter ready leaflet below. You can also download a PDF version below.