5 Ways to Avoid Frozen Pipes this Winter!

Today, the weather fairy has taken away my dulcet tones and left me with a raspy witch-like voice. The louder I try to project my voice, the more it squeaks! Not an attractive look, or sound, by any stretch of the imagination.

To add insult to injury, this morning my builder pops in asking me to call a building inspector for him for a project he’s working on.  I muddle through the call squeaking and whining all the way.  As I put the phone down, my builder asks whether I remembered to turn off and drain the water pipes that run up to the garden studio that I use as an office.  I panic slightly as it didn’t even occur to me to do that in the height of the sub-zero temperatures we recently endured. As he is busy with another job, I don’t want to concern him and say, “Oooh, it’s fine, don’t worry!”

When he leaves, I run up to the office to make sure the taps work and the loo flushes. Fortunately, all is in order.  The weather fairy took my voice and killed a few plants, but luckily didn’t freeze my pipes. I should know better, especially as my mum’s cold pipes froze for 48 hours this winter when she turned off the heating because she couldn’t bear the lack of fresh air any more.

I check the humidity monitor and see that the building is running at a cool 8 degrees (which is why I’m not working in there this week). I then think I should be a good citizen and remind you all to do the following:

  1. Check that your pipes are lagged.  I have lots of pipes running through the garage which are nicely snuggled in pipe insulation.  These definitely would have frozen without their jackets this winter as my garage doesn’t have any heating. If they aren’t lagged, buy the pipe wrap and slip them over the pipes. This is a job a woman can do so don’t wait for the man in your life to do it.
  2. Keep your heating on low. Don’t make the mistake my mum did and turn the heating system off completely.  Just turn it down to 18 or 19 degrees if you really can’t bear the stuffiness. Once your bricks get cold, it takes hours to heat them back up again.  If you are going on holiday, leave the heating on 10 or 11 degrees which definitely isn’t warm – but it will stop your pipes from freezing and won’t cost a fortune.
  3. Watch the weather.Android phones, the internet and TV all tell us what the weather will be like today. We use all of these sources, and our lovely Fat Owl Thermometer to tell us what to expect each day.
  4. Drain your pipes to outbuildings. If you have taps fitted to stop the flow of water to your outbuildings, it is worth turning the water off and then draining the system.  This just needs you to turn the tap to stop the water supply to the building, and then running the taps in that building to remove any water left in the system so they don’t freeze.
  5. Fit thermostatic radiator valves. I would much rather buy diamonds than pay the gas man.  However, sometimes you have to heat your empty rooms to protect your pipes.  In our empty guest rooms, we turn the radiators down to number 2 and close the curtains and doors on the rooms to seal them.  This keeps them at a low temperature and means that we aren’t heating extra square footage that noone is using at a higher temperature than is necessary.  You might panic at the thought of having your curtains closed on those rooms in daylight.  It’s your choice.  I do it for the benefit of my bank balance, not the neighbours.  Besides, they are more worried about where I get the cash to buy my diamonds!

For those of you who want to act now and protect your home, Amazon has some great deals on Pipe Insulation and Thermostatic Radiator Valves.

by Loretta Cotterell


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