How to prevent frozen pipes
When water freezes it expands. If water freezes inside pipes, this expansion can cause them to burst. As the pipe then thaws, the leakage of water and subsequent damage caused can be very significant.
Burst pipes caused serious losses during the cold winters of 1963 and 1981. Since the widespread installation of central heating, burst pipes have become less common, but in the cold winter of 2010, the Association of British Insurers reported up to 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage were made every day resulting in a pay out of around £2.5 million a day. The cost of damage to households as a result of burst pipes was in the order of £7,000 per household.
Most at risk are outdoor pipes such as garden taps or hoses, supplies to swimming pools, sprinkler systems and so on. However, inside buildings pipes may be at risk if the building is unheated or if pipes are in unheated areas such as garages, basements, attics, crawl spaces and so on.
- Ensuring the heating is on for at least an hour a day, or continuously during particularly cold periods. Modern heating systems may have thermostatic controls that allow them to be programmed to turn on in cold weather.
- Insulating pipes that may be at risk. This will only delay the process, and without a heat source even insulated pipes can eventually freeze.
- Re-routing pipes through heated areas.
- Running taps regularly.
- Draining pipes and hoses.
- Opening doors or hatches to unheated areas, although this can be very costly and may result in the temperature of the rest of the building dropping.
- If the occupants are away, arranging for property to be visited regularly.
- It may be possible to add anti-freeze to some systems.
If a pipe freezes, this may be apparent because the water stops running.
If pipes freeze:
- Check for burst pipes. This may require professional inspection of difficult to access areas.
- If there do not appear to be any burst pipes, allow the pipes to thaw naturally, or use hot water bottles or a hairdryers to accelerate the process.
- If there are burst pipes, turn off the boiler and any other water heaters, then turn off the mains water supply at the stopcock.
- Drain the system. Be aware that drains may also have frozen.
- Repair the pipework and any damage that has been caused.
- It may be necessary to call insurers to assess damage.
Featured articles and news
The origins, evolution and future of Level 3 BIM.
For new and returning Urban Design students, check out our article list divided up into the modules you'll be studying.
Report states that health of urban dwellers could be significantly improved by rethinking transport design.
The Kremlin, the centre of Russian power, includes some of the country's finest architecture.
Report launched outlining steps for a national infrastructure system that is efficient, sustainable, and delivers until 2050.
A review of Justin Bere's concise and well-presented introductory guide to Passive House.
This article describes in detail the tender process for a typical commercial construction contract.
What is energy storage, what are the different types and what is its future?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a state-of-the-art concert hall in Beijing.
Take a look at BIG's designs for two twisting towers in New York City.
'The filing cabinet' which was labelled one of the best British buildings of the 21st century.