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With a chill in the air, and Christmas holidays just around the corner, homeowners and landlords are encouraged to act now and avoid the burst pipes and blocked drains often associated with this time of year

Derrick Ryall, executive head of public weather services at the Met Office, said: “As we learned from the Beast from the East earlier this year, the weather can quickly deteriorate during winter, so taking a few moments now to check your home is prepared, can help to avoid costly repairs.”

Here are five essential steps to take now to make your property winter-ready …
  •     Locate your stopcock and make sure your tenants know where to find it and how to turn it off. If a pipe freezes and bursts, you’ll need to shut off the water supply as soon as possible.
  •     Repair any leaky taps – even a small trickle can lead to a frozen pipe
  •     Make sure the central heating boiler has had a recent service
  •     Taps and pipes situated outside or in unheated areas, such as lofts and garages, should be insulated to prevent freezing
  •     If you or your tenants are going away, leave the heating on a low setting (about 14C). If the property will be left empty for a while, it’s sensible to turn off the water supply and drain the system.

If the worst happens and a pipe freezes...
  •     Turn off the water supply at the stopcock
  •     Check to see if the pipe has burst
  •     Slowly thaw the pipe with a hot water bottle, a towel soaked in hot water or a hair-dryer on the lowest setting. Start at the end nearest the tap.
  •     Don’t leave taps running - water won’t drain if the pipe below is frozen

And if it bursts...
  •     Turn off the water supply at the stopcock
  •     Open all taps to reduce flooding. You’ll need to turn them off as soon as the pipework has been repaired.
  •     Soak up escaping water with thick towels
  •     Call a plumber!

WaterSafe is an online directory of approved plumbers, funded by the water industry. According to its director, Julie Spinks: “If you need help insulating pipes or fixing leaks, always use an approved, qualified plumber. It’s a good idea to keep a WaterSafe plumber’s details to hand in case of an emergency.”

Read more about this story on the Landlord Today website and get advice about winter plumbing issues from industry body Water UK. Visit the WaterSafe directory for details of approved plumbers in your area.