Prevent frozen pipes in cold weather

Cold weather in Ireland is a given. Mostly we just see it as a nuisance – longer commutes thanks to the extra ten minutes spent de-icing the car, cold toes waiting on the bus to school and looking forward to getting home and getting the heat on to thaw out.

But, if the temperature drops and your water pipes aren’t lagged properly, the worst can happen – they can freeze, and when they do this they can burst leaving you with severe water damage to your property. This is not just a nuisance, but a costly repair, and can be very dangerous especially if the water gets near an electrical socket. Find out about how to prevent frozen pipes in cold weather, and if you can’t prevent it, what you can do about them.

What causes pipes to freeze?

When water freezes, it expands and this can be a disaster for your water pipes, as they can break under the strain and pressure. If they don’t burst completely, they can still crack, and when the water thaws, this can lead to leaks. This can happen when the weather is cold, when there is no insulation on the pipes, or if there is no heating as they run against exterior walls.

How to prevent pipes from freezing

Thankfully, there are a lot of steps you can take to prevent frozen pipes in cold weather. Here are some of our top tips:

  • Insulate your exterior pipes anywhere where they are exposed
  • Remember to insulate your interior pipes too in areas where you aren’t normally – like the attic space and the garage.
  • Run your cold tap regularly to keep the lines clear.
  • Open the cabinet doors under your bathroom and kitchen sinks to let warmer air circulate around the pipes
  • In extremely cold weather, keep your taps dripping slowing to let a small trickle of water through. This can help to release some of the pressure and prevent a rupture in your pipes
  • Remember to check ALL your taps – if one can freeze, they all can freeze.

What to do if pipes burst

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your pipes may still freeze and burst. When this happens, it’s important to take action straight away. Turn your water off at the stop cock and wait for the pipes to thaw. If you can’t wait, you can apply gentle heat to the areas of the pipe that are frozen in the form of towels soaked in warmer water or an electric heating pad wrapped around the frozen area of the pipe. If you have tried this and there is still no water coming out of your taps, the frozen part of the pipe could be in an area that you can’t access, and you should call in the professionals to help.

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