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The big thaw: advice for dealing with frozen pipes as temperature rises

During the last 24 hours, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) crews have responded to a number of flooding related incidents across Berkshire caused by frozen pipes.

Firefighters responded to a total of 23 flooding related incidents during the evening of Friday, 2 March, with the severe weather causing pipes in several homes to freeze and burst.

Paul Jacques, Area Manager, said: “As the temperature begins to warm up slightly, we’re seeing frozen pipes begin to thaw and cause problems for residents.”

“It is important that you know in particular how to turn off your water and electricity supply, as this is can limit further damage to your property.”

RBFRS is urging Berkshire residents to take time during daylight hours today to locate their stop tap and make sure they can turn it clockwise to shut the water off should they need to in an emergency.

“Most of us don’t have a need to isolate our water intake from one year to the next, but there is nothing worse than trying to find it for the first time in the middle of the night with water coming through your ceiling.”

“Please take the time today to find where yours is. Finally for those of us with elderly or vulnerable neighbours, it would be of great help if you could perhaps pop around and locate their stop tap so that if they need assistance, help could be at hand”. 

In the event of frozen pipes in your property:

  • Turn off your main stop tap. Locate and turn off the main stop tap, which will turn off the water supply. This should be in the cupboard under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe comes into your home. While the pipe is still frozen you can remove nearby items to protect them from water damage, in case of a leak. Further information will be available via your water provider. 
  • Turn off your electricity supply. Turn off your electricity supply using your isolator switch or fuse box – but only if it is safe to do so. If you are unsure, contact your insurer or an electrician for advice. 

 To help prevent your pipes from freezing, it’s important to:

  • Know where the internal stop/tap valve is (usually under the kitchen sink) and how to turn it off.
  • Keep the home as warm as possible even if you are out.
  • Lag pipes in exposed or draughty places.
  • Leave the trap door to roofspace open to let warm air flow in during extreme weather conditions when there is the chance that un-lagged water tanks and pipes could freeze.
  • See that taps are turned off properly.
  • Have contact details for a plumber.

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