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Protecting your home during the cold weather and how to respond in an emergency

Parts of the UK are set to be hit by freezing temperatures and snow this weekend as a -10°C arctic blast sweeps across Western Europe. The cold snap signals plumbing misery for many, with frozen and burst pipes frequently 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.
  • Make sure you know the location of, and have labeled, the stop-valve on the incoming water supply main. The ability to turn this off quickly could save thousands of pounds worth of damage in the case of a burst pipe.
  • If your condensing boiler stops working during minus temperatures, double check that the condensate pipe isn’t frozen. If it is, then call in a professional to give you advice on rectifying the immediate problem and make sure you get the necessary advice on how this can be prevented from recurring in future. 
  • 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: “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; you’ll then buy yourself time to call in a professional.”

You can find out more about dealing with plumbing emergencies at

And should the worst happen, you can find a list of professional plumbing and heating engineers in your area at, by phoning 01708 472791 or emailing