After the UK’s experience with an unprecedented extreme heatwave this Summer, many will likely be welcoming the fast-approaching colder months with open arms. However, similar to the disruptive impact of the heatwaves and resulting water shortages on farms across the country, the winter brings new threats to the water supply of many farming operations.
As winter brings the cold, water within exposed pipework and outdoor taps can freeze. Rather than just a short-term disruption to the water supply, the frozen water will expand within the pipes, causing the pressure to increase and stretching the existing pipework. After the winter, this damage can result in costly and highly disruptive leaks and bursts.
As the UK’s fastest-growing SME water supplier, Everflow has seen first-hand the costly impact of frozen and burst pipes for farmers. After the challenging Summer endured by the industry – alongside the ongoing cost-of-living crisis – many farms simply cannot afford the cost of another weather-related calamity.
However, there are several preventative measures that can be taken to avoid frozen or burst pipes. Taking the time to ensure your operation is fully prepared for the colder months could save businesses thousands in water bills and repair costs.
Prevention is best – wrapping up your pipes for Christmas
It is never too early to take steps to protect your pipes ahead of the challenging colder months. The process begins by surveying the property and identifying any pipes that carry water – this simply involves running the water and checking to see which pipes vibrate. Once all the pipes have been identified, the best preventative measure to protect your pipes is to wrap them in lagging.
Pipe lagging, or pipe insulation, is a material that can be purchased from your local DIY store all year round, as it is often used to reduce noise emissions. Typically, lagging is made to fit standard 15mm pipes; however, if you are unsure about the thickness of your pipes, you can refer to the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme Tool.
To fit the lagging, you will need to measure the length needed and then cut it down to size with some sharp scissors. When fitting the lagging over the pipes, you must join the seams together and secure them with adhesive tape to ensure cold air cannot get through.
Be sure to protect any water pipes that could be exposed to cold weather – think warehouses, stables, barns, cellars, and outdoor taps in the yard. Lagging can prevent pipes from freezing in the first place, so doing it correctly and thoroughly is worthwhile.
Don’t overlook anything – everything and the kitchen sink
After lagging the pipes leading up to outdoor taps, it is necessary to protect the taps themselves. Outdoor taps are especially vulnerable to the elements; when a tap is frozen, it can drastically increase the chances of a burst pipe. Outdoor tap covers – available at your local DIY store – can offer much-needed protection.
Other preventative measures include fixing leaking taps, ensuring your boiler has been recently serviced, insulating water tanks, minimising draughts from outside by using insulation and closing doors/windows to unheated parts of the property. As a final precaution, it should be advised to keep a supply of essential water aside for emergencies.
It is also important to ensure your water meter is protected, as freezing conditions can often damage these. Note that many meters have a cap fitting over their display these days and a polystyrene plug covers some to prevent water from damaging the device. If your meter does become waterlogged or broken, it is crucial to raise a repair request immediately to avoid any shock bills.
If disaster strikes – act immediately to mitigate the damage
If you find yourself without running water this Winter, you should get in touch with your nearest neighbours to see if they are experiencing the same issue. If they are, there may be a supply interruption in your area – in which case you’ll need to contact your wholesaler.
However, if this isn’t the case, your pipes will likely have frozen. In this scenario, your first move should be to turn off your water supply at your stop tap and begin efforts to thaw your pipes. This can be done by applying gentle heat to the exposed pipes (i.e., a warm towel) to try and get the water moving again.
When attempting to thaw your pipes, move the heat source along the line to prevent any damage or cracking from occurring. To check if you have been successful, turn the water supply back on at the stop tap and check if the water is flowing. If unsuccessful, you should contact a plumber – an approved local plumber can be found on the Watersafe website.
Ultimately, prevention is better than cure. To start 2023 off on the right foot, it is highly advisable to take all preventative measures possible to avoid the costs of repairing bursts or leaking pipework before disaster strikes.
For more information about how Everflow makes water simple for SMEs, visit https://www.everflowwater.com/
This article is a contribution from Everflow’s CEO & founder Everflow
Image provided by Everflow