Snow Predicted in Kent: How to Protect Your Pipes

snow

With temperatures falling across the UK, forecasters have predicted the imminent arrival of snow in Kent. Recent reports suggest that snow could hit Folkestone and Dover as early as 21 November, with Thanet expected to see its first snowfall of the year on 28 November. Canterbury, meanwhile, will get its first flurry on 1 December, while Dartford and Gravesend won’t see a flake until 17 December.

No matter what part of Kent you’re in, now is the time to ensure your pipes are prepared for the winter. Failing to protect them for the icy conditions ahead could leave you without hot water when you need it most, not to mention a costly repair bill should they end up bursting.

With that in mind, here are Drain Doctor’s top tips on winter-proofing your pipes, plus some advice on how to dethaw them should they still succumb to the cold.

How to Protect Your Pipes Against Frost

There are a number of things you can do to keep your pipes flowing throughout the winter months, some of which should be done in advance of temperatures plummeting.

Insulate your pipes 

If you haven’t already, we would advise purchasing some special pipe insulation, which is available at a reasonable price from most DIY stores. Pipe insulation is usually made from polyethylene, foam or fibreglass. While it doesn’t add heat to pipes, it will help maintain the temperature of the water inside, minimising the chances of pipes freezing when exposed to low temperatures. When insulating pipes, particular attention should be paid to unheated areas such as basements, lofts and garages.

Keep the heating on 

Many people turn their heating off when they’re not at home, or lower the temperature overnight to save money, but both will increase the risk of frozen pipes. That’s why it’s advisable to keep your heating on and set it to remain at a consistent (but comfortable) temperature throughout the day and night. The additional cost of doing this will be marginal compared to the cost of repairing a burst pipe.

Leave interior doors open 

As a homeowner, it can be tempting to close doors to prevent heat escaping a certain room. However, pipes are typically located in places that aren’t exposed to much heat, such as  kitchen and bathroom cupboards, or behind a loft door. Leaving doors and cabinets open will ensure warm air can circulate through the whole house and reach the pipes that need it most. It’s also advisable to open your attic door regularly during particularly cold snaps.

Let water drip from a tap

It may sound like strange advice from a plumbing company, but letting one of your taps drip is a good way of avoiding frozen pipes. Flowing water is less likely to freeze, and the energy released by the flow of water – even if it’s just a small amount – should be enough to keep your pipes warm as winter sets in. A running tap also relieves pressure build-up in cold pipes, which can stop your pipes bursting even if the water inside freezes.

Drain the water system 

If you’re going away for an extended period of time over the winter, you probably won’t want to leave the heating on the whole time you’re away. Draining your entire plumbing system will prevent water freezing and expanding in your pipes, so you can take a break safe in the knowledge that you won’t come home to a burst pipe and costly repair bill.

How to Spot a Frozen Pipe

While there is plenty you can do to protect your pipes from the cold, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for any telltale signs of a frozen pipe. Here are some of the most common:

Slow water supply – If there is no water flowing out of a tap, or it’s only trickling out, there’s a good chance the water may be frozen in the pipe leading to that tap.

Strange smells – An unsavoury odour is usually a sign of a pipe being blocked, and frozen water in a pipe can lead to a smelly back-up of sewage in your system.

Damp walls – Frozen pipes will eventually start to leak if they’re not thawed, and in the worst case will explode. Damp walls and carpets are common signs of a leak.

Visible frost – Of course, one of the most obvious indicators of a frozen pipe is the presence of frost on the exterior, or a bulge where ice has built up inside. This is easier to spot on visible pipes, so you may need a plumber to check other pipes in your property.

What To Do if Your Pipes Freeze

If your pipes have frozen, it’s important to thaw them at the earliest possible opportunity in order to prevent any leaks or bursts.

  1. Start by turning on your taps, which will relieve any pressure in the system and give water an outlet once it starts to thaw.

  2. Heat should then be applied to pipes to start the thawing process. This can be done with hot towels, heat lamps or hairdryers, but naked flames should be avoided at all costs. Turning the heating on will help thaw any pipes that are inaccessible.

  3. If your pipe has burst, it’s essential to switch off the water system to prevent any more water flowing out and causing further damage to your property. You’ll then need to call an emergency plumber to repair the pipe safely and professionally.

Keeping Your Property Safe in Winter

At Drain Doctor, our team of technicians are on hand 24/7 to deal with any emergency plumbing issue, including burst and frozen pipes. Because we are based locally, we can be at your home or business promptly to make any urgent repairs and minimise damage. If you need a plumber you can trust during winter, or require emergency plumbing assistance, get in touch with Drain Doctor today.