Here in the United Kingdom we are fortunate enough to have four different seasons and nice as it is, the colder months bring with them a drop in temperature and this is sometimes enough to cause problems with our plumbing systems. The issues we face as it gets colder are not only frozen pipes but also burst pipes. Luckily, there are ways to avoid this and in this article I will tell you a bit more about preventing this from happening.
Prevention and Protection: Pipes
When it comes to cold water pipes, all of them – despite ownership, should be insulated as to avoid frost damage and possible water leaks. Even though all cold water pipes should be insulated, it is especially important for the pipes found in the loft close to the eaves and the ones underneath the floorboards and close to the air-bricks to be so. Nowadays you can get modern preformed pipe lagging in most sizes and they are not only inexpensive but also a lot easier to install than the older versions. However, preformed insulation might not work everywhere and I have found that a felt or a glass fibre wrap-around seem to work best for valves and some compression fittings. These are easy enough to fit yourself.
Prevention and Protection: Cisterns
When you insulate cold water pipes, it is important not to forget that the cold water cistern itself will need some sort of insulation as well. It is best to insulate the top of the cistern but to leave it if off underneath, allowing instead for some of the heath from the house to rise up to it. It is a good idea to bring up the ends of the blanket towards the sides of the cistern when insulating the loft floor. If you come across a pipe that is very exposed, it would be a good idea to use a small heater to keep the cold off the pipe. Alternatively, you can purchase tapes that protects against frost and these are called electric frost protection tapes. They incorporate a very low wattage heater and you simply wrap it around the pipes that need protection. The great thing is that they do not need special wiring and some are even thermostatically controlled to switch on when the temperature drops.
A good tip for you if you have a cistern kept outside, is that the cistern could be kept from freezing by simply hanging a light-bulb by it and leaving it on.