When winter sets in and the cold weather starts the pipework and water tanks in your property are vulnerable. The main reason for this is that, when water reaches freezing point, it expands. As the water expands it exerts pressure on the pipework and other plumbing installations which can cause cracks. Once the water warms and the ice melts, a leak will occur that could have catastrophic results, including flooding of your home, damage to its fabric and contents, short-circuiting of your electrics and, if you are on a water meter, the possibility of a very large water bill for the winter quarter. Because of that, coupled with the fact that taking precautionary, protective action is much cheaper than leaving it until an emergency arises, we thought we would give you a few tips about how to protect your plumbing system from the worst excesses of the winter weather.
Lag Your Pipes
Any of your pipework that is likely to be exposed to the cold weather should be properly insulated. This involves lagging all of the pipes that are on the exterior of the property, in the attic space, in the garage and in any rooms that are to be left unheated. This is all the more important if you intend to leave the house for a winter break when the water will not be flushed through the pipework on a regular basis. Lagging pipework is relatively cheap and easy, involving attaching (with adhesive tape or cable ties) foam tubes that correspond with the size of the pipes.
Insulate Your Tanks
Water tanks are normally kept in the attic space or in the garage. Because both of these locations are likely to be susceptible to the cold, it is important to make sure that the tanks are effectively insulated.
Check your loft insulation to make sure that it is in a reasonable condition and of sufficient thickness to protect any pipework running across the roof space. All pipes should be covered by the loft insulation as well as being individually lagged. Additional protection can be added, when the weather is especially cold, by leaving the loft hatch open to give the warm air inside the house a better chance of circulating.
Check the Boiler
The effectiveness of the central heating system depends of the efficiency of the boiler. If it breaks down the house will quickly become cold, increasing the risk of burst pipes. You should therefore make sure that the boiler is regularly serviced to keep it in a good working condition.
Any areas of the house that are likely to allow cold drafts to infiltrate it should be given attention to minimise the amount of cold air that affects the internal pipework.
If your house is to be empty for any period of time over the winter it is prudent to turn off the water supply at the mains stop cock. An additional precaution is to drain the water system down completely to guard against burst water pipes. If you would prefer not to do this, an alternative measure is to leave your central heating on at a low level to maintain a degree of warmth in the property.
If you want to ensure that your plumbing system is not adversely affected by the cold weather, you should consult with your local South Devon plumbers or builders who will be happy to survey your property to identify any areas of potential weakness. Most local tradesmen will be happy to provide a free quotation for any work that is necessary to protect you, your home and its contents from the worst of the Devon winter weather.
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