Winter advice for water and wastewater

The following information and advice has been provided by Southern Water.

Significant weather, such as heavy rain, flooding and extreme temperatures can affect your water and wastewater services, causing a huge disruption to your life and livelihood.

Preparing for winter

It's really important to prevent any water in pipes, cisterns and storage tanks from freezing when the temperature drops.

This could leave you without running water or heating - or worse, a leak or burst in your home.

Ice expands, so if the water in a pipe at your home freezes, it can swell, putting pressure on your pipes until they split.

Later, when the temperature rises again and the ice melts, the split pipe becomes obvious as a leak or burst - and because it could happen anywhere your pipes are exposed, you could be faced with an unwelcome bill to repair the damage.

In an emergency

If your pipes do freeze

  1. Turn off the water supply at the stop valve straight away
  2. Don't switch on your boiler or immersion heater
  3. Open the nearest tap and gently heat any frozen sections of pipe with a hot cloth or hot water bottle from the tap backwards
  4. Never use a naked flame to defrost pipes. It's a fire hazard and can cause more damage to your water system

If your pipes burst

Water pipes in homes are the property owner's responsibility, so if you notice a burst or leak at home:

  1. Shut off your water supply and then open all hot and cold taps until they run dry
  2. Switch off your mains electricity supply
  3. Try to temporarily fix the burst pipe by binding it tightly with cloth, tape or using a pipe clamp
  4. Call a qualified plumber and turn off all taps until the pipe is repaired

Top tips to prepare your home for the cold

Insulate water tanks and pipes

Use pipe lagging/jackets or insulation to prevent any exposed or unheated water tanks or pipes from freezing. Think lofts, garages and also garden taps. When insulating, make sure there are no gaps in the lagging.

Fix dripping taps

In cold temperatures even a small trickle can cause water in the pipe to freeze.

Find your internal stop tap

Find the stop tap in your property and make sure you can turn it off. Most stop taps are fitted under the kitchen sink or stairs and can be turned off by turning clockwise.

Service your boiler

Have your boiler serviced regularly (usually every year) to keep it working as efficiently as possible, and avoid it breaking down during cold weather.

Block breezes and draughts

Minimise draughts and shut doors and windows to unheated parts of the home. If your property is going to be empty for long periods, turn off the water at the stop tap and consider draining your pipes (by opening your taps while the stop tap is off).

If you spot a leak, please report this to Southern Water or call the leak line on 0800 820 999.