Householders urged to check for frozen plumbing

As the cold snap continues across the North West, water company United Utilities has been getting calls from householders affected by frozen plumbing.

The sub-zero temperatures can cause pipework to freeze where it comes into a building, near the internal stop tap.

So the water company is urging householders whose taps have run dry to check first with a neighbour.

“If your neighbours still have water, and you are the only house affected, then it’s very likely that the problem is with your own plumbing, not the mains pipe in the street,” explained United Utilities’ Head of Customer Services Colette Evans.

“When we see several days of sub-zero temperatures like this, any exposed pipework entering your house can be at risk of freezing. The culprit is usually the section of pipe just around your stop tap, often under the kitchen sink.

“There are some tips you can try. You need to gently heat the pipe, using a hair dryer or a hot water bottle.  It can take around 15 minutes, but it might be enough just to thaw the pipe and get your water moving again.

“Make sure you keep an eye out for leaks, as the pipe might have split. If you see a leak you’ll need to turn off your stop tap and call a plumber.”

If several neighbours are affected by the water going off then it may be a wider problem so check the United Utilities website where there are live updates on any issues.

United Utilities is also asking owners of businesses that have been closed during lockdown to take action and check that their property has not fallen victim to the freeze.

“Often frozen pipes don’t reveal themselves until they thaw. It’s not too late to check on your premises before the forecasted thaw kicks in this weekend and you can get the stop tap turned off and avoid a lot of damage,” added Colette.

“We know many business owners currently have a lot to deal with, and the last thing anyone needs right now is the inconvenience and expense of a burst pipe.

“If it’s safe to do so, check your premises on a regular basis. If your taps aren't running, it could mean your pipes are frozen. You’ll need to turn your stop tap off and have the number of a good plumber to hand," said Colette.

The best way to avoid the headache of a plumbing burst is to insulate your pipes. Wrap your pipes with lagging and pay particular attention to the pipes in cold areas, such as a garage, cellar or those outside your property, as these are the ones most likely to freeze when the temperature drops.

For more information and dealing with frozen pipes, visit