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Preventing Winter Drainage Problems

When it comes to looking after your drains and avoiding pipe problems over the cold Winter months, the adage ‘prevention is cheaper than the cure’ has never been more fitting.

Colder weather is creeping up on us and the drop-in temperature means bad news for your pipes. But there is light at the end of the pipe… or tunnel rather! Check out our straight-forward tips for keeping Winter drain problems to an absolute minimum over the coming months.

Frozen Pipes

When water drops below 4 degrees Celsius it begins to expand and continues to expand until it reaches 0 degrees. At this point, any further drop in temperature will result in the water freezing. Once frozen, it can continue to expand by as much as 10% causing all the pipes throughout your house that contain water to expand with it. With all this pressure pushing against your pipes they can eventually give way and burst causing significant damage to your property – the very thing we want to avoid this Winter.

1. Check Outside

A quick inspection of the pipes leading into your home can nip any potential issues in the bud before they cause a problem. Pipes exposed to the elements are more likely to drop in temperature and freeze. Check for gaps around the pipes where they enter the property and if you spot any get them filled in. Excluding these drafts will also save you some money on your heating.

2. Keep Pipes Warm

Ideally you should never let your house drop below 12 degrees Celsius. Keeping your house warm, especially over Winter, will go a long way to avoiding any frozen pipe issues. The warmer and more frequently your home is heated, the less likely you are to suffer from problems with your pipes. Opening cupboard doors and letting the heat from your home circulate around pipes like those leading to your sink can also be beneficial.

3. Fix Your Drips

Where there is a drip, there is water which can freeze, and is more likely to freeze given that it is typically moving slowly rather than at speed like when a tap is fully turned on. Dripping taps and leaking valves are prime candidates for freezing when the temperature drops. Check your property and fix any drips immediately.

4. Use Pipe Insulation

Pipe insulation is a great way to keep your pipes warm and to reinforce them against expansion. The two main types of insulation used are lagging and heat tape. Electric heat tape is wrapped around a pipe and plugged in to a mains socket to actively heat a pipe. Lagging is more common and is usually a foam-based tube that is fixed around a pipe to help contain the heat and reinforce against expansion. Insulation is particularly useful for pipes in parts of your property that are more exposed to the cold, such as in a garage or utility extension.

In Case of Emergency

Should your pipes freeze this Winter, don’t panic – all is not lost! Take immediate action to prevent further damage from pipes bursting. First turn off the water mains running into your house. Do this by using your stopcock. You then want to drain the system by running your cold taps until the water stops… don’t run the hot taps as this can cause more serious issues. You then need to feel along the pipe to find the section where freezing has occurred, it usually feels much colder than the rest of the pipe. Once located, gently heat the area by wrapping a warm towel around it until the ice has defrosted.

For fast response emergency drain repair the TWC Drain Care team are always on hand. Give us a call for helpful advice and emergency assistance.

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