Precautions to take in the event of severe weather conditions
The main risk to any property in periods of cold weather is water damage due to burst pipes. You can minimize the chances of damage occurring by taking a few key steps:
- Leave the heating on for certain periods during the day.
- Open any trap doors to ensure warm air can circulate around pipes in the roof space.
- Keep doors in the property ajar, to allow warm air to circulate.
- Keep the cupboard under the sink open.
- Find out where your stopcock is and how to turn it off.
Reduce the risk of pipes freezing by ensuring, that you have enough gas or oil to heat the property. If you know you are going to be away from your home during a period of bad weather, think about giving a spare key to a friend, family member or neighbor, who can keep an eye on the property, if the weather takes a change for the worse. If your pipes do freeze, you will need to act quickly to reduce the risk of them bursting. You should:
- Turn the water supply off at the stopcock
- Try to thaw the pipes, by placing warm towels or a hot water bottle on them or using a hairdryer on its lowest setting. Pipes must be thawed slowly, never use a blowtorch or exposed flame.
Turn the water supply off at the stopcock,
Try to stop any escaping water with blankets, buckets or towels,
Turn off your central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating systems,
Drain the system by turning on all your taps and flushing the toilet several times,
Check if there is a risk of electrocution and switch of the mains electricity supply if there is,
Contact your letting agent asap.
Find your stopcock – the tap that turns off the main water supply. Find it now, rather than looking for it, when water is pouring everywhere. It’s probably in the kitchen near the sink. You should now check, that it is working properly. If it is not, please report the matter to us immediately.
Get to know your heating controls. Central heating thermostats and time switches can be complicated. If you are unsure, get advice from a heating engineer during your annual gas service, or call us for advice.
Try and keep your home reasonably warm and check the plumbing each morning, to make sure that nothing is frozen or leaking.
If you have central heating, use the thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable. During the day a good setting is between 18°C and 22°C. If it’s freezing outside, set the heating to stay on continuously, but turn the thermostat lower for the night. Remember, the higher the thermostat, the more fuel you use.
If you need to go away and leave your home, tell your local housing office. If you’ve got central heating and you’re away in cold weather, leave the heating on continuously with the thermostat right down to 6°C. This will stop your pipes freezing, but it won’t cost much. If you haven’t got central heating, turn the water off at the stopcock and drain off all the cold water. Then turn off the immersion heater.
If your pipes are frozen but not burst, then you should turn the main water off at the stop tap. Turn the cold taps ON (so that they are in the open position). Make sure the sink and bath plugs are out. Try and save some water for drinking. If you know which pipe is frozen, very gently warm it with hot water bottles or a hair dryer. Start from the end nearest the tap.
If a pipe has burst, then you should turn the main water off at the stop tap. Turn the cold taps ON (so that they are in the open position). Make sure the sink and bath plugs are out. Try and save some water for drinking. Turn the immersion heater and central heating OFF, if you have them. Turn the hot taps ON.
If there is water near the lights or sockets, turn the electricity off at the meter. Catch leaks in basins and soak up water with towels, to prevent water damaging your home.