Heating advice - avoiding frozen and burst pipes

Release Date: 20-Dec-2010
Due to the extremely cold weather we have received a high number of repair orders to frozen pipes. In many instances this is because the boilers are not being used to power central heating at a constant temperature or the central heating is turned off.
While many tenants are concerned about the cost of heating, we would strongly urge you to turn on your central heating systems. Please remember that people over a certain age or in receipt of certain benefits are eligible for winter fuel payments and /or cold weather payments which will help to pay for any increase in fuel bills.

Please check the Department for Work & Pensions website for more information on these payments – see link at the end of this page.

Further general information and advice can also be found on various water company websites or plumbing and heating websites.

Burst Pipes

Don't Panic! The first thing to do is to prevent water passing the point of the leak. Turn off all stop valves (sometimes called stop cocks) which are often sited under the kitchen sink. If there isn’t an internal valve, turn off the water at the external valve which may be under a cover in your garden or path.

If the escaping water cannot be controlled immediately, open all cold water taps so that the pipework and storage system drains quickly. DO NOT TURN ON HOT TAPS. Turn off the central heating system and, if it uses a solid fuel boiler, allow the fire to die out. Switch off any electric immersion heater, then call a professional plumber.

Frozen Pipes

If a pipe freezes, turn off the mains water supply at the stop valve inside your home. If the frozen pipe runs from a storage cistern and is not controlled by a valve, check that it hasn’t split. If it has, empty the cold water storage cistern by opening the cold water taps and flushing the WC. If you know how to, you could siphon the water from the cistern with a hose pipe, then call a professional plumber. If the pipe isn’t split, thaw it out by applying hot water bottles.

If any part of the hot water system is frozen, there could be a risk of explosion if the boiler (or other heat source) is kept alight, so ensure it is turned off, or for solid fuel systems, extinguish the fire. Be careful as although water may be flowing from taps, other parts of the system may still be frozen.

• Don’t try to thaw it too quickly as there may be splits in the pipe which are not immediately noticeable.
• Never use a naked flame to thaw a pipe.
• Always start thawing a pipe at the end nearest the tap.

It is important to stay warm and well when it is cold. If the heating system is not used there is a greater danger of pipes bursting which would result in a lot of disruption and mess and having no heating or water for a potentially long period of time.

It is also important to know where your stop tap is in case of an emergency.

If you find pipes without any lagging then please let us know.