BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
IRISH WATER have appealed to homes and businesses to take preparatory steps to prepare for freezing weather and to conserve water. At the time of writing the long-range forecasts for February is suggesting a very rainy month but in the short term we could expect some freezing conditions which can lead to a higher-than-normal volume of burst pipes.
A burst pipe can cause severe damage to your home and lead to the loss of valuable water. Even a small leak can lead to expensive repair bills and a disrupted water supply. Therefore, Irish Water are asking home and business-owners to take some simple steps to winter-proof their premises over the coming months.
Tom Cuddy, Head of Operations, Irish Water, said: “With temperatures often dipping below zero at this time of year, we are appealing to homes, businesses and those responsible for unoccupied buildings to check for leaks whilst adhering to current public health regulations and advice, and to turn off water where it’s not needed.”
They want customers to check outside pipes that can freeze and burst during periods of cold weather and report leaks immediately that they see on the public network to 1800 278 278.
Irish Water offer the following as a guide only and if you have a basic knowledge of plumbing the following tips will help you locate and thaw a frozen pipe or make an emergency repair to a burst pipe but if you are at all unsure of what to do, turn off the supply and call a registered plumber.
What should you do if you have a frozen pipe?
• Protect or move anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts when thawed
• Turn off the water supply. The stop valve is usually located under the kitchen sink
• Turn off the stopcock in your cold-water tank, usually located in the attic
• Check the water pressure in appliances such as taps and toilets to see if it is lower than usual
• Locate the general area where you think there may be a frozen pipe and check for visible pipes that are not insulated, pipes that feel much colder than others, have nearby draughts or damage
• Then turn on nearby cold taps to relieve pressure on the frozen pipe. NEVER turn on the hot taps.
• Thaw the pipe and if the pipe and fittings are not cracked or broken, you can try gently thawing the pipe. Use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to gently warm the pipe, starting at the end nearest the tap and NEVER attempt to thaw out frozen pipes by switching on your immersion, central heating, blow torch etc.
What should you do if you have a burst pipe?
• Act as soon as possible to limit the damage by turning off the water supply as instructed above.
• Drain the system by turning on all the cold water taps and flushing the toilets.• Switch off the central heating and immersion. If you use solid fuel, let it die out and when the water heating is completely off, turn on the hot taps to further drain the system
If water from a burst pipe is leaking near any sockets, switches, or appliances, switch off the mains if it is safe to do so. If the switch is wet, do not touch it but instead call a qualified electrician.
You can make a temporary repair to a burst pipe by binding it tightly with a cloth or tape but replace this as soon as possible by a permanent repair carried out by a qualified and registered plumber.
Ensure your hot water system is refilled BEFORE you switch back on your immersion or boiler.
If you have a shared water supply e.g. if you live in an apartment building, ensure you have access to the stop cock. This is usually located where the water supply enters the building and check with your neighbours that turning off the water has not affected their supply.
Irish Water encourages people to visit their Winter Proofing page for more tips at https://www.water.ie/help/supply/winterproofing