Winter is finally here, so are you ready?

11 January 2016

We’ve had the warmest December since records began, but it looks like winter has finally decided to put in an appearance, as the Met Office is reporting freezing temperatures over the coming weeks. We're encouraging households across the Midlands to wrap up their water pipes in preparation for the frosty period.

An outdoor tap

As the temperature drops, water in pipes can freeze causing them to split and burst. So our customers need to make sure their homes are ready for the cold weather. This means insulating unheated pipes and taps, both inside and outside, to prevent them from freezing. 

Simon Brown from Severn Trent explains:  “Many of our customers don’t realise that Severn Trent is only responsible for the water and service pipes in the public highways. All the pipes inside your home are your responsibility. That’s why we want to make sure our customers are equipped to prevent leaks and bursts during the cold weather, as they can be very costly to repair.

“Low temperatures can cause the water in the pipes to freeze, often causing joints to pull apart or spilt. This can have devastating affects on our customers’ homes and is something we want to avoid. So, by getting everyone to take some small, but important, precautions, this can be prevented.”

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Consumer Council for Water, also commented: “A burst pipe can very quickly cause dreadful damage to your home and nothing can compensate for the misery and disruption. Make sure you take action now so you don’t pay a heavy price later.”

We're also encouraging our customers to report leaks that they find in the road or on pavements. Simon explains: “When the weather is drier it’s a lot easier to spot water leaks, so while we want to encourage our customers to look after they’re own pipes, we also appreciate their help finding leaks that are Severn Trent’s responsibility. We have a network of water pipes that could stretch around the world so we often find that our customers spot water leaks before our leak detectors can find them.

“At this time of year it’s as important as ever that everyone reports leaks because, if left, they could turn to ice and become dangerous. You can report the leak or tweet us @stwater.”

If you do have a problem with your water supply this winter, with either low pressure or no water coming out of your taps, you should first check to see if your neighbours are experiencing the same issue, as this will help work out if the problem is wider or just on their own supply.  If the neighbour’s water supply is normal, it’s likely that they’ll need to call a plumber. If more than one home is affected, they’ll need to ring Severn Trent’s 24 hour emergency number to report the problem – 0800 783 4444.

Here's some hot tips for cold weather:

Wrap all pipes in foam, joining the tubes where they meet. Then use tape or cable ties to hold it in place. To get around the corners, cut your foam tube at a 45 degree angle. It’s very important that the cold is kept out, so wrap them tight;

Stop the draughts, as cold air from outside freezes pipes inside, so cover those gaps in doors and windows;

Check that your loft insulation is thick and in good condition, and runs over the pipework where possible;

Make sure you use good quality, waterproof foam, which can be found at your local DIY store. If you’re concerned about your own DIY abilities, a registered plumber can check your household pipes to make sure they’re properly lagged. Severn Trent supports – an online search engine for qualified and approved plumbers;

Use the frost setting on your central heating, or leave it on low when you are out or away;

If you’re going to be away for a few days leave the central heating on low or set it to come on twice a day to warm up the pipework.