Paid collaboration with Dŵr Cymru/Welsh Water
As the last few days have shown us, cold weather snaps can come on suddenly and temperatures can plummet to freezing overnight.
This is why we are working with Welsh Water on their Get Winter Ready campaign, highlighting the problems cold weather can cause in people’s homes and the need to prepare for winter weather.
You may well have seen on Cardiff Mummy Says that we’ve been going through a big house extension and renovation. It’s been a chaotic couple of years living in a building site but we’re slowly coming through it. We are so pleased with the results and loving how the extra space and open plan living has benefitted family life so much already.
However one thing we hadn’t considered in great detail was how to ensure we take the necessary steps to stop any disasters caused by the cold.
Having gone through so much building work, the last thing we want is a frozen pipe bursting and flooding the place and having the upheaval of costly repairs, especially given the current cost of living crisis, so we’ve been going through the advice and taking steps to help protect our property.
Here’s what Welsh Water advises when it comes to preparing your home for the cold, and the steps we’ve been taking to minimise damage caused by winter weather.
What damage can winter weather cause to pipes and taps?
Nearly a quarter of people in Wales have experienced frozen pipes in their homes, according to a survey by YouGov. Of those, 16% had experienced a burst pipe, often resulting in hundreds of pounds of damage.
In fact, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) £1.8 million is paid out by home insurance providers every day in ‘water escape’ claims, with an average of £8,800 per claim.
When temperatures drop, the water in your pipes and taps can freeze. This can result in a water blockage and pipes can burst, creating leaks. Pipes and taps that are outdoors or in cold places such as a loft or garage, are more susceptible to freezing.
Welsh Water works tirelessly throughout the winter months to maintain supplies whatever the weather. However they need customers’ help to minimise the impact of burst pipes and leaks, which can cause havoc with walls, floors and furniture, and be costly to repair.
When a problem occurs on pipes in homes, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord so it’s definitely worth taking steps to reduce the likelihood of it happening in the first place.
How to protect your home from cold weather damage
Much of this damage could be prevented, which is why every Winter, Welsh Water highlights key ways to protect your home from the damage caused by winter weather. Read on for more information on the easy steps you can take to make sure you’re home is ready for winter.
- Wrap up your pipes to keep them warm
When temperatures drop, the water in your pipes and taps can freeze, with those that are outdoors or in cold places, such as a loft or garage, more susceptible to freezing.
So what’s the answer? Well, just like you might put on a hat or gloves and wrap up warm when cold weather arrives, taps and pipes benefit from a cosy extra layer too – a process called ‘lagging’.
However, 40% of people in Wales don’t know how to lag exposed pipes and a total of 63% have never attempted this before. Lagging equipment can be bought at most DIY stores, or Welsh Water is offering a limited number of free lagging kits to customers, which can be found here.
I was among those statistics until Welsh Water sent me a kit to try – and it was actually easier than I thought to cut to size and place over the pipes, taking just a couple of minutes.
Welsh Water have outlined three key areas where pipes are likely to need protecting – outdoor water pipes and taps, including turning off the valve and draining outside hoses; pipes in unheated places such as attics, garages and kitchen cabinets; and buildings that may be empty for a few days such as businesses, schools and second homes, where it’s advisable to turn off the stop tap and drain the system so there’s no water to freeze.
2. Check your stop tap
Hands up if you know where your stop tap is? If you don’t, then find out. If you do get a burst pipe, you’ll be able to turn the water off and minimise water damage.
There are two different types of stop taps – external, which are located outside the property (often under a metal or plastic cover) and are the responsibility of the water company, and control the mains water supply to your property; and internal, which are situated within the home and are the responsibility of the home owner. These are commonly located underneath the kitchen sink but could also be found in an airing cupboard, under the stairs, near the front door, in the bathroom, utility room, garage or cellar.
3. Fix any dripping taps
It’s easy to think of a dripping or leaking tap as a minor annoyance, but if it’s not fixed promptly it could lead to even worse problems. If not repaired, something as simple as a broken valve, seal or washer could lead to corrosion or other parts breaking because of the leak. This could result in costly repairs, and a greater risk of winter damage. A good plumber will be able to identify and resolve the issue before it becomes even worse.
Did you know, through Welsh Water’s Project Cartref scheme, Welsh Water can fix a number of small leaks in your property for free? Head to the website to find out more.
4. Keep your home cosy
Replacing cracked windows or installing double glazing can save you a small fortune on heating bills. Frost can cause a lot of damage to your walls so you should also make sure the walls aren’t cracked.
If you’re going away this winter, then there are steps you can take to keep your house warmer and to reduce the chance of cold weather damage. Draft excluders, keeping the curtains closed, and fitting the lagging kits previously mentioned to your pipes can all help. Setting your heating to come on for short bursts while you’re away could also work out cheaper than repairing the damage caused by a burst pipe.
5. Service your boiler
Get a qualified engineer to check your boiler is working properly. Ideally this should be done annually so that any issues can be discovered before they become too problematic. A boiler service takes around an hour, and must be carried out by a Gas Safe Registered engineer who will follow a comprehensive checklist. Identifying problems early can prevent bigger issues later on, and hopefully mean you’ll be less likely to find your boiler breaking in the middle of winter.
6. Insulate your loft and water meter cupboards
Not only will this help protect exposed pipes but insulating your loft can save you up to £250 a year in heating bills, while getting cavity walls insulated will make your home even warmer.
7. Clear your gutters
Clear any leaves or muck from your gutters to prevent unwanted flooding. Plus take a look at your roof and chimney, replace any broken roof tiles, and get your chimney swept.
Many people may be going into winter feeling particularly worried about their finances or struggling to afford the essentials, due to the increase in cost of living. Welsh Water is reminding customers who are worried about paying their water bill to get in touch, as they may be eligible for financial support to help towards paying their water bill.
Visit www.dwrcymru/helpwithbills to see how Welsh Water could support you to save up to £230 off your annual water bill.
8. Better protected this winter
We were surprised just how easy it was to fit the lagging kit to our pipes. It took just a couple of minutes, and all we needed was the lagging and a pair of scissors to cut the tubing to size.. Along with the other recommendations from Welsh Water, it’s made us feel more confident that our newly-refurbished home will be better protected when the cold weather hits this winter.
For more information on Dwr Cymru’s Get Winter Ready campaign and to get your hands on a free lagging kit, visit:https://www.dwrcymru.com/en/winter-ready