Although the clocks have gone back and the festive adverts are on the telly, winter may still feel a long way off. But a cold snap won’t wait till you’re ready, and a winter emergency such as a burst pipe can harm your home, hurt your wallet – and threaten local wildlife too.
Why worry about winter?
When the temperature drops, the water around your home can freeze. When this happens, the ice expands and puts pressure on your pipes, which can cause them to leak or even burst.
The winter months are expensive enough – the heating goes up and the wish-lists come in. The last thing you need is the added cost of calling a plumber or replacing damaged possessions. That’s why now’s the time to protect your home.
But we’re not the only ones who can suffer. Winter emergencies can cost the environment too.
Where home meets habitat
Leaks and bursts waste water, which comes from natural sources like nearby rivers and underground streams beneath your feet. At this time of year, these water sources are recovering from the drier months and spikes in people’s water use during the summer.
Like us, plants and wildlife rely on these precious habitats too. Preventing leaks and bursts helps these sources bounce back, so we can all count on them for a long time to come. It all makes a difference.
Fortunately, most winter emergencies can be avoided – all it takes is a little preparation.
Winter readiness 101
Ready to protect your home and help local habitats recover? That’s great. Here are our three top tips to get you started:
- Get lagging – When you want to stay warm, you put on a coat. You can do the same for your pipes to stop them freezing. It’s called lagging – and it’s simple to do. Your local hardware store should be able to sell you some cheap foam tubing to wrap around your pipes. Follow our step-by-step guide if you’re unsure how to lag your pipes.
- Find your stop tap – Would you know how to turn off your home’s water in an emergency? Get to know your stop tap. It’s usually found under the sink or stairs. Find your stop tap and check it’s working, so you know what to do in a crisis.
- Undo your hose – If you have a garden, your hose probably has the winter off. Remember to retire yours properly. Any water left inside can freeze and split the hose – or force its way back into your pipes and cause leaks there. Undo your hosepipe from the tap and drain it, just to be sure.
By following our tips to prepare your home for winter, you’ll be helping to make sure everyone has enough water to stay cool and hydrated when the warm weather returns.
No time to chill
Just like the pipes in your home, winter puts pressure on our network too. As the temperature changes, the ground can freeze and thaw. This causes the earth to shift, putting pressure on our pipes. If they break, that’s when leaks or bursts can happen.
That’s why winter is a busy time for our leak detection team, which works all year round to find and fix leaks on our 8,640 miles of water mains – that's over three times the distance from England to the North Pole. The team will be lifting meter covers to listen for leaks, while the leak alarms on our water meters continue to help us save millions of litres of water each day. You can help us – please report a leak online or by calling 0800 820 999 if you spot one.
Save now for summer
By preparing your home for winter, you’ll be helping habitats bounce back for summer. It may feel a long way off, but you can also start preparing for summer too. These drizzly months are the perfect time to fit a water butt and start collecting rainwater to use around the garden when the warm weather returns. Brr-ing on the spring!