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HPM April 2015

WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com BUSINESSFEATURE Preventing your pumps from freezing Alex Murray, community co-ordinator at LGS Plumbing and Heating, offers some advice to ensure your pipes don’t bring you winter woes... Some people welcome the brisk, freshness of clear cold days, but forget about the problem that plummeting temperatures at night can bring: frozen pipes. Imagine leaving your home overnight and coming back the next day to flooded floors and collapsed ceilings. Sounds too dramatic to be caused by pipes? Think again… Frozen pipes are more likely to burst; causing flooding if not detected quickly. THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM One of the main problems with frozen pipes isn’t the inconvenience of not being able to run a tap because the water’s frozen solid, it’s the fact that the solid block of ice formed by the frozen water can cause stress fractures to plumbing, so when the ice thaws your home is flooded thanks to those perished pipes. Another problem is hidden away in your drains. If drains aren’t kept clear, they could become backed up with dirty water and debris, which may also freeze and cause floods and damage. PREVENTING FROZEN PIPES WHEN YOU’RE AT HOME So if the weather turns particularly cold, what methods can you use to prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place? • A quick and easy way to protect your plumbing is to cover pipes with insulation. Waterproof foam pipe insulation is readily available from DIY and hardware stores and can be surprisingly inexpensive, especially when compared to the costs of a big mop up operation later on. However, don’t be tempted by options which seem too cheap to be true, the chances are they’ll be largely ineffective against water and ice. Always choose insulation which carries the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme approval and is at least 50mm thick. Pipe insulation (also known as lagging) is a simple and cheap method to protect both indoor and outdoor plumbing. • Remember to insulate all pipes in loft spaces, basements, utility areas and your garage too - this includes hot water pipes, which can also freeze if temperatures drop low enough and if the water isn’t running through the pipe (for example, when you are away, or the heating is turned off) • Water tanks also need to be insulated, to help with efficiency as well as protection from low temperatures • Remember that all insulation to your home will protect your plumbing as well as your heating bills. Insulation to cavity walls, lofts and double glazing will help keep your home temperate and reduce the risk of frozen pipes • Consider keeping taps running at a small trickle. This helps to keep water flowing through the pipes, reducing the risk of it icing up as well as reducing pipe pressure • Keep drains regularly cleared to avoid blockages - and never knowingly put something down the drain which might cause a blockage or water backup. Substances such as grease, fat and food debris from the kitchen, or hair in bathroom drainage, can all cause drain blockages • Unless you’re still using your external taps for animal husbandry or work, disconnect them until the spring • Run water from all taps at regular intervals • Check external plumbing such as outdoor taps on external or garage walls. These are often linked to your home’s main plumbing system and can still cause problems and floods inside when the pipe freezes from the outside. Additional prevention when you’re away: • If it’s just a few days, consider leaving the heating on low or using a timer switch so that heating comes on at regular intervals. If you want to target problem areas, ensure that the heating is particularly on in rooms which have plumbing on external walls • For longer periods when your home is empty, turn off the water and drain down the system • Open the hatch to the loft space. You won’t be there to feel the draught and the open hatch will allow the slightly warmer air inside the house to circulate through the loft • Ask someone you trust to check your house regularly. Show this person where the mains stop-cock is and any individual stop-valve (particularly if you have old or ‘quirky’ plumbing) so that they can take immediate action if there is a burst pipe. Make sure that you also give this person the emergency contact numbers for yourself and your plumber. Finally, also ensure that you have adequate insurance against plumbing accidents and flooding, just in case the very worse does happen. LGS offer this advice freely and in good faith, but of course everyone’s system and plumbing can be very different. We can accept no responsibility for any problems arising from action recommended in this guide. 24 APRIL 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY enquiry number 121 Pipe insulation (also known as lagging) is a simple and cheap method to protect both indoor and outdoor plumbing Frozen pipes are more likely to burst, causing flooding if not detected quickly


HPM April 2015
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