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How to manage your frozen pipes

Frozen Water Tap

If your pipes start to freeze over, it’s important to take care of them before they cause further issues to your home. In this handy blog we’ll talk you through what to do if your pipe freezes and how to minimize damage if your frozen pipe does burst.

Look out for the warning signs

Tapping Running
  • Your central heating makes gurgling sounds when it’s on
  • Your boiler won’t turn on
  • There’s no water coming out of your taps, or just a trickle
  • Your sink is clogged, and your toilet is flushing slowly

Defrosting your pipes

It seems obvious, but if the temperature drops outside, so does it in your external pipes. However, too many of us don’t think about it until it’s too late. Frozen pipes are a common issue in many types of homes. Thankfully, they can be thawed in just a few simple sets.

1. Identify the cause

If one of your pipes is frozen, you’ll need to locate the blockage before acting. You can do this by:

  • Looking for evidence of freezing along the pipes.
  • Using your hands to feel along the pipe until you reach a section that feels colder than the rest. You may find it helpful to compare the temperature of the blocked pipe to that of a pipe where you know the water is flowing freely.

Remember, during the colder months, you may find multiple frozen areas within a single pipe. This is especially common in areas where the pipe is exposed to the elements, such as draughty areas where the pipe enters your home.

Frozen Pipes (1)

2. Protect your possessions

If you suspect a pipe is frozen, it’s a clever idea to protect everything nearby to avoid potential damage if the pipe were to burst. Move smaller items out of the way and cover up larger pieces that might not be possible to move.

Plastic Cover Kitchen

3. Say stop to the stop tap

Turn off the main stop tap. You typically find this tap under your kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters your home. If your stop tap is in an area that may cause danger or risk to you, then please don’t attempt this yourself.

If you have a cold water tank., turn off the stopcock too, this is usually found in the attic or loft.  


4. Run the closest tap

Next, open the cold tap that’s closest to the section of frozen pipe - this will allow the water to flow away when it melts.

Hot Water Tap

5. Start defrosting

Before attempting this next step, please check your pipes for any signs of damage, failure to do so could result in further damage.

You can defrost the frozen section of pipe by covering it with a hot water bottle or heat pack, this may take some time but is a safe option. If you do choose to take this step, make sure the area is dry and you avoid your equipment making contact with water.

Remember, never use a naked flame or a heat gun to thaw out ice, as this could damage your pipes and creates a fire hazard.

Hot Water Bottle

6. Check for pipe damage

Once you’ve thawed out your pipe, check it thoroughly for any signs of damage or leakage. If your pipe has been damaged, you will need to call out a qualified plumber or, if included in your maintenance agreement, call Places for People to fix the issue.

Pipe Damage

7. Turn on the taps

Once the blockage has been defrosted, turn your stop tap and stopcock back on and run water until the normal flow is restored.

Turn On Tap

Drying out your home

Man Opening Window

Sadly, sometimes a frozen pipe can burst, leaving water damage in its wake. If this does happen to you, it’s vital to know what you can do to minimise the long-term damage to your home and dry it out quickly.

To dry out any affected rooms, you should keep the doors and windows open wherever possible. This circulation of fresh air will help speed up the drying process. While leaving your heating on and leaving drawers and doors open will accelerate the drying.