During the freezing winter months, water inside a pipe can freeze and turn to ice, this unfortunately expands until finally it splits the pipe or forces the joint apart. There are ways that you can prevent this from happening along with temporary methods of fixing these problems; here are some tips on what to do when your water pipes freeze.
You can start by insulating or lagging your current pipe work including the fittings, especially the ones inside your loft and underneath your flooring in order to stop them from freezing.
In the event that you have to leave your property unheated for a lengthy period throughout the winter months, make sure that you:
1) Drain the system.
2) Cure any dripping taps so any leaking water will not freeze in the drainage system overnight.
If you find that water does not flow from your taps, or your cistern does not refill during cold weather, you may well find that a piece of ice normally known as an ice plug could have formed inside one of your supply pipes.
You will need to trace the source of the blockage pretty quickly, and the best place to start looking would be the loft, as freezing water pipes normally takes place primarily within your roof space.
Since copper pipes transfer heat quickly, use a hairdryer in order to heat the suspected frozen water pipe, starting as near as you can to the particular tap or valve, and simply work the heat backward and forwards along the copper pipe.
Do not forget to leave the particular tap open, in order for the water to circulate normally the instant the ice begins to thaw.
In case you are unable to warm the copper pipe using a normal hairdryer, you can also wrap a hot towel around it or even hang a hot rubber water bottle over the pipe.
Copper water pipe is far likely to split compared to the old lead pipes, which are able to stretch to allow for expansion, which means that lead pipes are able to withstand a few harsh winters before they reach breaking point.
If your copper water pipe does split, you can easily patch it temporarily before calling out a plumber to fix it properly.
The first repair method is to cut a piece of garden hose pipe a couple of inches larger than the split copper water pipe, and then split the hose pipe lengthwise so you can wrap it around the pipe. Finally, clamp the hose pipe to the copper water pipe using normal jubilee clips or twist pieces of wire around the hose using a pair of pliers.
The second repair method is to use epoxy putty. This typically comes in two parts, and will start to solidify soon after the two parts are mixed together, usually giving the user around 20 minutes to be able to carry out the repair. This putty is designed to adhere to hard plastic and the majority of metals.
To use this type of repair you should clean the copper pipe where the damage is and about two inches either side using wire wool or abrasive paper.
After thoroughly mixing the putty, begin the repair process by pressing the putty into the damaged pipe or joint, try not to put too much around the pipe about 3 to 6 mm is adequate.
This epoxy putty will normally be fully hardened within 24 hours, although it is possible to run low pressure water through it straight away if you wrap tape around it.
However, it is almost certainly far better for you to insert a brand new length of water pipe, even though epoxy putty repair will probably last a long time.
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