People in Wales are being advised: ‘Don’t just wrap gifts this Christmas, also wrap up your water pipes to avoid bursts and big repair bills during freezing weather.’

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water’s message to customers is ‘Wrap Up Wales’ to prevent the disruption and inconvenience that frozen water pipes cause many households every winter. The company is urging people to spend a few pounds to protect their pipes from bursting and causing damage that can run into thousands of pounds.

Welsh Water’s operations director Peter Perry said: “Now is the time to take action before freezing weather causes burst pipes in the home that can mean being without tap water over the Christmas holiday period.

“Research by the Consumer Council for Water has shown that only one in ten people are aware of the risks of pipes freezing at their homes, and that means that thousands of Welsh homes could be landed with big repair bills this winter. Four people in 10 don’t know if their pipes are insulated against the cold and two thirds don’t know what to do if they freeze.”

Mr Perry explained that water in pipes that are exposed to very low temperatures, such as those in garages and outhouses, expands when it freezes, causing a burst when they thaw. A repair is then urgently needed, at a time when it’s most difficult to find an available plumber – such as over the Christmas period.

“If you’re planning to visit family or friends and your home will be empty over the Christmas period you need to be sure that exposed water pipes are wrapped in insulation to protect them. Otherwise they could burst and you won’t know until you return home.
“Our message is Wrap up Wales and take action now to prevent a problem that can cause a tremendous amount of inconvenience and expense – at the time of the year when you’d least want to face it.”

Welsh Water points out that in recent days the temperature has dropped as low as minus 5 in some parts of Wales, and cold weather could return at any time.

Lia Moutselou, Policy Manager at the Consumer Council for Water in Wales, said “Pipes in our businesses and homes are our responsibility – so it’s worth taking some time to check you’re covered, even if your property is rented. Insulation is widely available in DIY stores and it can be slipped over pipes or wrapped around them.”

Lagging kits are available at half price on the Dwr Cymru Welsh Water website or by calling 0844 324 0844.

How to prevent pipes from freezing:

Make sure you know the location of your stop tap so you can reach it quickly in an emergency (TIP: It’s often under the kitchen sink).
Make sure any exposed pipes are wrapped or lagged.

  • Keep an eye out for frozen pipes, bursts or leaks.
  • Fix dripping taps – a gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe
  • Keep your heating on low if leaving premises empty.

What to do if pipes freeze:

  • Find your stop tap and turn it off.
  • Turn on nearby cold taps, to allow the water to escape when it thaws.
  • Don’t turn hot taps on until the central heating is switched off.
  • Move things that might be damaged if the pipe bursts when the water thaws.
  • Apply a hot water bottle or hot wet towel to a frozen pipe.
  • If you notice a leak after thawing, turn off the stop tap and call a plumber.
  • If you are unsure of anything at any time call a certified plumber.

Advice on insulating water pipes can be seen on the Welsh Water website