How to protect your pipes in winter

Five tips to help you protect your pipes in winter and prevent unnecessary expense and damage to your home.

With the weather turning colder, there is a real risk that water in one or more of your pipes could freeze over the next few weeks – and especially if your home is left empty while you are away.

If a pipe freezes, it can expand and burst. If water escapes, it may cause serious damage to your property, including flooding and broken boilers.

At Saga, "escape of water" makes up a large proportion of our customer claims, so it's best to be prepared.

The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of your pipes wreaking havoc this winter should we experience a big freeze.

1. Keep your heating on

A good way to protect your pipes during the colder months is by keeping your heating on constant, but at a lower-than-normal temperature.

If you’re heading off on holiday over the winter months, keep the heating on at a low temperature (around 12°C-15°C). Also keep your loft hatch open slightly to let the warmer air circulate, as this can prevent the pipes in your loft from freezing.

2. Check insulation

Make sure insulation is in place on water pipes, and also in your loft and other areas of water storage, such as a water tank. The more insulated your pipes are, the better protected they will be.

3. Repair dripping taps

Repair dripping taps and replace washers where needed. If you don’t do this and the tap freezes, it may block the pipe and cause damage.

4. Leave cabinet doors open

Keep the doors on kitchen and bathroom cabinets open, as this will allow warmer air to circulate and reach pipes that are under sinks and next to the outside wall.

How to protect your home in winter...

5. Thaw out frozen pipes

If a pipe has frozen, thaw it out gently using hot water bottles or a hairdryer.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.