Keep your cool during the big freeze

burst pipes

In Plumbing emergencies

Last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ caused burst pipe misery for many, when plumbing systems succumbed to the minus temperatures inflicted by the polar vortex. If you haven’t taken steps to protect your home from the elements this year, you may wish to get your skates on before plummeting temperatures and snow hit.

Frozen and burst pipes head up the league of household disasters when the cold weather descends. Jerry Whiteley, Technical Manager for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) has the following advice:

  • In very cold weather take special care to prevent water pipes becoming frozen by ensuring that all exposed pipes and storage systems are properly insulated, particularly in the roof space or attic. Always take care when entering a roof space and ensure your safety. If you do not feel confident, don’t risk it, call in a plumber.
  • If your pipes could do with a bit of thermal help, take a quick trip down to your local plumbing or DIY merchant for some lagging. It’s cheap, easy to fit and something you can do yourself.
  • Make sure you know the location of, and have labelled, the stop-valve on the incoming water supply main. Should you encounter a burst pipe, you need to stop water running past the point of the leak by turning this valve off. You’ll then buy yourself time to call in an engineer.
  • If you are going away on a winter’s holiday, leave the thermostat set low (at least 5oC) to help prevent pipes from freezing; and do check your insurance policy to see if you have to comply with any directives such as draining down pipework.
  • If you need to call in professional help, make sure you engage the services of a member of the CIPHE. They have been vetted for qualifications and experience, while also abiding by a Code of Professional Standards.

Jerry added: “Boiler breakdowns can be deadly for elderly and vulnerable people. Please check in on elderly or vulnerable family members, friends or neighbours, to make sure their property is warm enough.”

You can find out more about dealing with plumbing emergencies, including burst and frozen pipes at

For a list of professional plumbing and heating engineers in your area visit, phone 01708 472791 or email