Winter Drainage: 10 tips to beat the cold

Winter is here, and with it comes the threat of your drains getting frozen, blocked and damaged. If you live in an area where the temperature drops below freezing, it’s essential to prepare for winter drainage problems and keep your system clear.

Why should I be worried about cold weather?

Winter is the time of year when drain problems can occur. The cold and wet weather means leaves, snow, ice and excess water are all factors that can cause your drains to flood or pipes to block and freeze. It’s also the worst time of year to have drainage problems. Who wants to be cosy at home and have to deal with a burst water pipe or frozen garden hose? With some simple prevention, you can make sure you’re prepared and enjoy the winter weather outside of your house.

How can I protect my home drainage system?

Here are some tips for keeping your home drains clear and pipes protected:

  1. Insulate pipes with lagging. By covering hot water pipes, the water in the pipes will stay warmer for longer, with the added bonus of reducing energy bills. Make sure you cover water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like loft spaces and garages and check any outside hose pipes too.
  2. Make sure downspout aprons or splash blocks are correctly aligned and directing flows away from the foundations. Downspouts discharging water near or against foundations in winter can lead to property damage and flooding
  3. If your radiators aren’t heating to the very top, use a radiator key to open the valve and bleed them, releasing any air build-up and allowing them to heat better.
  4. Keep drains and gutters clear of leaves. This will help to prevent blockages and also stop leaks and damage to the walls and roof.
  5. Know where your stop tap is and how to operate it in case of burst pipes.
  6. If you’ve got dripping taps, the drips are not only wasting water but in extremely cold weather could freeze and cause damage. Change the washers and rid yourself of that annoying dripping sound.
  7. Make sure your boiler service is up to date. Boilers are usually serviced once a year. If a boiler breaks down, it can be expensive and hard to get a plumber out during the holidays.
  8. If possible, keep the heating on a low setting when you’re out of the house during the day. This will help keep the house warm and prevent pipes from freezing.
  9. If you’re going away on holiday, make sure you turn the water off completely using the stop tap. This ensures there’s no water in the system to freeze and burst any pipes while you’re away.
  10. Be prepared and keep the name and number of a qualified plumber somewhere visible for emergencies.

What do I do if my pipes have frozen?

According to Southern Water, if do you notice a frozen tap or pipe at home, you should follow these steps:

  • Turn off the water supply at the stop tap straight away.
  • Keep your boiler or immersion heater switched off.
  • Check to see if the pipe has burst.
  • If the pipe has burst call an emergency plumber.
  • If it has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains.
  • If the pipes are just frozen, open the nearest tap. Starting at the end closest to the tap, gently heat frozen sections of pipe with a hot cloth, hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water.
  • Never use a naked flame, hairdryer or blowtorch to thaw the pipe – it’s dangerous and can cause more damage.
  • Don’t leave taps dripping or running as the water may not drain down the plughole if the pipe below is frozen.
  • If in doubt call a reputable plumber for emergency assistance or advice.

Protect your holiday time!

Don’t let freezing temperatures shut down your drainage system, burst your pipes and ruin your holidays. Replacing soaked furniture, home furnishings and electrics can be costly. Check your insurance covers burst pipes or drainage issues.

With these tips, you can make sure that your system is prepared to withstand those frosty, winter months. However, regular inspection and maintenance is the only way to ensure you get the best out of your system at any time of year.

At PDS we offer services for the maintenance, inspection and repair of existing drains – if in doubt, get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise you.

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