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How to check and prevent freezing or burst pipes

What is the risk of freezing pipes?

It’s a simple fact that when water freezes, it expands. Unfortunately the pipes used for your plumbing are not so flexible, resulting in burst pipes and water damage in your home. Any home with poor insulation is at risk (think many of the homes built in the last 7 years) and any space within the home where pipes are exposed to a cold air flow are vulnerable – think attic spaces, outside walls and cracked wall coverings. If in doubt, check your home out by following the investigative steps below.
How to identify freezing pipes
A frozen pipe does not leak, so the first indication is a disrupted water supply– with little or no water coming from your taps. A quick inspection of your piping may also reveal frost on the exterior of the pipe in question.
What to do if your pipes freeze
·         If you suspect frozen pipes, turn off the water supply to your home as soon as possible. You can do this by locating the main stop cock (stop valve) in your house, normally located under the kitchen sink.
·         Where possible also turn off the water supply from your water tank – normally located in your attic. Turn off the stop valve on it’s outlet pipe.
·         Finally, turn off all water heating systems and turn on your taps to drain the system - this will minimise water damage caused in the event of a burst pipe. 
·         At this stage you should request a plumber to call out and check your plumbing system for further damage.
What to do if your pipes burst
·         Turn off the water supply to your house and water tank as above.
·         Where electrics are exposed to water, turn off your electricity supply at the mains.
·         If your house is insured, contact your insurance company at this point.
·         Get a plumber out as soon as possible.
·         Collect any water in buckets to limit the damage
·         Puncture the plaster in any bulging ceilings to relieve the pressure and limit damage
How to prevent frozen pipes
·         Insulate all exposed water pipes (both internal and external) with foam based or specialist pipe insulation. Exposed pipes include those in attics, external wall cavities and near damaged walls.
·         Ensure that the heating comes on for a time in unoccupied homes during cold weather spells.

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