QWM Group

How to stop pipes freezing in the winter period

Each season brings its own challenges for maintaining the well-being of your property’s drains, with winter being arguably the most demanding. As temperatures drop and the threat of heavy rainfall and ice damage looms larger, it becomes crucial to ensure that your drains are adequately prepared to avert the risks of frozen pipes and the ensuing damage.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a business proprietor, understanding how to shield your external drain and water pipes from freezing is essential, along with ensuring the smooth flow of your wastewater systems. Failing to take appropriate precautions heightens the likelihood of frozen and burst pipes, as well as the development of cracks and blockages that may result in flooding and expensive property damage.

To assist in mitigating the risk of frozen pipes during the winter, this comprehensive guide outlines the necessary steps to safeguard your property’s drainage against the harsh impacts of winter weather.

What impact does winter weather have on pipes and drainage systems?

Water expands when it freezes, a basic principle that remains true even when the water is confined within pipes or water tanks. The solidification process exerts significant pressure on the structural integrity and stability of frozen pipes.

Consequently, when cold temperatures and sub-zero conditions set in, various issues may arise for your property, particularly if you have exposed pipes. Freezing pipes can result in stubborn blockages as ice masses form within, hindering water flow and potentially causing flooding. In the worst-case scenario, the pressure generated by the frozen water can lead to a cracked or burst pipe, resulting in substantial property damage that is both costly and time-consuming to rectify.

The challenges stemming from blocked and damaged pipes are exacerbated by the heightened precipitation in the form of rain and snow during winter, along with the accumulation of dead leaves, branches, and other debris that can clog the system. Failing to adequately prepare your pipes and drains for the cold weather puts your property at risk of waterlogging and serious structural damage, particularly when faced with adverse weather conditions.

How to prepare your property against burst drains and frozen pipes this winter

Getting your property ready for an upcoming cold spell is crucial, but luckily, it’s not overly challenging. Prioritising precautions against winter conditions should be a primary concern for residences or businesses, especially those with:

  1. Outdoor taps
  2. Swimming pool houses
  3. Water sprinkler systems
  4. Exposed pipes in unheated areas like garages, sheds, and attics

By following these straightforward measures, you can safeguard your pipes from freezing or bursting during the winter season:

Ensure any visible drips or leaks have been fixed

As winter draws near, it’s advisable to survey your property and examine all faucets and facilities for potential leaks. If any leakages are identified, it’s crucial to address them promptly. Leaks not only waste water but also heighten the risk of pipes freezing in the cold weather.

While some drainage issues may be remedied with a patch kit, it is generally more convenient and secure to enlist the services of a professional, especially when dealing with pipes that serve your heating or water mains.

Drain water from outdoor pipes ahead of the cold snap

It is advisable to remove all water from pipes supplying outdoor water-based appliances that won’t be utilized during winter, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generally, this involves turning off the main water connection to the relevant faucet and letting the water flow until it is depleted.

Caution should be exercised when considering the use of antifreeze products, as these substances may harm pipelines and the environment. Hose pipes situated in unheated or outdoor areas of your property should also be drained and stored in a warmer indoor location. For taps in these areas, close the indoor valves while leaving the outdoor ones open, allowing water to safely expand without pressurization.

Insulate water pipes to avoid freezing

Insulating pipes is an effective and cost-efficient method to shield against frost damage for pipes, drains, cisterns, and other water-containing structures that will be operational during the winter. Circular polyethylene insulation, readily obtainable at many DIY stores, can be conveniently wrapped around vulnerable pipes. Alternatively, for thinner pipes, heat tape or cable proves to be effective.

By insulating your pipes before winter sets in, you not only safeguard them from freezing but also enjoy the added advantage of reducing energy consumption.

Speak to the experts

Ensuring you are well-prepared for the potential risks of winter is most easily achieved through booking a drain inspection. By enlisting the services of drainage experts, you can determine whether your pipes have any existing leaks, damage, or blockages and ensure they are thoroughly cleaned to optimise their functionality.

Our comprehensive reports will assess your property’s condition and take necessary actions to address any ongoing maintenance issues. Additionally, we offer recommendations and guidance on further steps you can take to safeguard your home from potential damage caused by frozen pipes during the winter period.