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‘Beast from the East’ to cause burst pipe misery

We may have thought spring was in the air, but the UK is set to be hit by freezing temperatures and snow as the ‘Beast from the East’ (a rare North Pole phenomenon called a ‘sudden stratospheric warming’ in the polar vortex) sweeps across the nation. With temperatures plummeting and snow setting in, weather forecasters believe this cold snap could last until early March.

Freezing conditions signal plumbing misery for many, with frozen and burst pipes heading up the league of household disasters. Paul Harmer, Lead Technical Consultant for the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) offers 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.
  • If you have a storage cistern in the roof space it will be sensible to open the loft hatch to allow some heat from the house to rise, this will help keep the cistern from freezing.
  • Make sure you know the location of, and have labeled, the stop-valve on the incoming water supply main (otherwise known as a stop-cock). It could save thousands of pounds of damage in the case of a burst pipe.
  • If the worst should happen, the important thing is to stop water running past the point of the leak by turning off the water supply via the stop-valve (stop cock); you’ll then buy yourself time to call in a professional.
  • And lastly, 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.


Paul Harmer added: “Boiler breakdowns can be deadly for the elderly and vulnerable. If you have an elderly or vulnerable family member, friend or neighbour, please check in on them to make sure their property is warm enough.”

You can find out more about dealing with plumbing emergencies at

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