Cold temperatures can lead to homeowners needing more than a blanket with problems often occurring inside and outside their homes.

When it’s icy, pipes can become frozen and sometimes even burst so it could mean the professionals taking a look at it, leaving you with a hefty bill.

To put your mind at rest, it’s worth knowing how to prevent this from happening in the first place and how to treat frozen pipes if it does occur.

What makes a frozen pipe burst?

The British Gas website explains that as water expands, it freezes which pressurises the pipe from the inside out.

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A pipe might not be strong enough to cope with the pressure so depending on “the volume of water that’s frozen, the type, shape and age of the pipe, and whether corrosion was already present”, it could burst.

How to prevent pipes from freezing

Some simple things can be done to prevent pipes from freezing including having your boiler serviced.

British Gas advises that you insulate your pipes and water tanks to avoid freezing pipes.

It says you can do it yourself by getting some “inexpensive pipe lagging and tank jackets from most DIY stores and fit them yourself for free. Just make sure you check the pipe and tank measurements first.”

Focus on the key areas – outdoor pipework, pipes that are in colder areas of your home and water tanks.

If you have pipes and tanks in loft spaces that are unheated, you can open the hatch when the icy weather hits to allow the heat from your home to rise and reduce the chill getting to it.

How to prevent condensation in your home

Pipes and tanks that are in cupboards can also get some warm air flow if you open the cupboard door.

Keeping windows closed, using draught excluders on your doors and sealing any draughty edges will help block out chilly breezes.

It’s important to fix leaking taps and to know where your stopcock is in case you need to turn the water off.

If you know you’re going away for a few days, you should turn your water off using the stopcock and you could also drain the system – this is done by running your taps until they’re empty.

Don’t forget, when you’re finished, to close your taps again.

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Worried your pipes are frozen? Signs to look out for

If your pipework is causing you to worry as the colder temperatures arrive, here are some signs you can look out for, according to British Gas:

  • Little or no water coming from your taps or shower
  • Frosty or wet exposed pipes
  • Unusual noises coming from your system when you flush the toilet or use your sink. Bubbling or whistling sounds could be a sign of air trying to escape your pipes through a blockage
  • Damp patches or rings on walls or ceilings

You can find out more about frozen pipes via the British Gas website.