Frozen and burst water pipes in council homes

Water supply pipes in your home can be at risk during winter months and you need to take measures to prevent them from freezing or bursting. If you don't take reasonable measures to prevent burst or frozen pipes you may be held responsible for the damage caused to the property.

As a council housing tenant, you are responsible for making sure your home is safe and secure, and you have contents insurance.

Please make sure you know where the water stopcock is in your home and you can access it if it needs to turned off to isolate water supply.

The location of the water stopcock will vary from home to home but will usually be at the incoming supply pipe in the kitchen. If you are not able to find it or to use it, contact the Housing team for advice.

How to prevent frozen pipes

All water pipes and water tanks should be properly insulated to avoid frost damage.

To prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep your home warm
  • Prepare if you are leaving your home empty in winter
  • Contact the Housing team if you are concerned that pipes are not properly insulated

Keep your home warm

Try to keep your home reasonably warm during the day. In very cold weather keep the heating on during the night at a low temperature.

If you experience very low temperatures at any time it is a good idea open the hatch in the roof space if you have one. Although this may add slightly to your heating bills, it will give more protection to your water tank and pipes in the roof space.

View advice about:

Leaving your home empty in winter

If you are going to be away from home for a few days during winter, leave the heating on and leave a key with someone who can keep an eye on your home.

If you will be away from your home for more than four weeks, you must let us know and tell us who to contact in the event of an emergency. Please let us know by emailing, phoning or writing to your local housing office.

If your home is not going to be heated while you are away, you need to drain off the hot and cold water supply and turn off the water stopcock. It is not normally necessary to drain down any wet radiator central heating system because antifreeze is usually installed.

Housing Repairs will be able to drain your water system, and refill on your return, if you call then on 03456 08 12 03 to arrange.

What to do if you have frozen pipes

If you have frozen pipes, turn off the stopcock immediately and then you should:

  • Open all cold taps to drain the system, and collect water in your bath for washing and flushing the toilet
  • Not open the hot taps as the hot water cylinder may collapse if the pipes feeding it are frozen
  • Turn off the central heating and immersion heater if using solid fuel heating and let any fire die down, use temporary heaters as an alternative to keep property warm
  • Leave oil, gas or electric heating system on at a low heat, 24 hours a day
  • Leave doors, loft hatch and unit doors open to allow heat to circulate properly

If you need further advice or if pipes are frozen for more than a day after thaw attempts, please call on 03456 081203.

Frozen waste pipes

Waste pipes can be treated by applying hot water externally to the pipe or if possible, fill bath or sink with very hot water and leave to thaw pipe.

The toilet cistern can be filled by removing the lid, or use a bucket of water to flush any waste away from toilet bowl. Don't do this if the drain outside is frozen as the water will come back up and overflow. Open bathroom door and if possible get more heat into room.

If you need assistance due to medical needs or are elderly with no relative or somebody nearby to assist call 03456 081203 to get advice or request an operative or contractor to attend.

What to do if you have a burst pipe

If you have a burst pipe:

  • Turn off the stopcock
  • Turn on all cold water taps to drain water as much as possible, but collect water in your bath for washing and flushing the toilet
  • Turn off central heating and immersion heater
  • Switch off electricity if water comes into contact with wiring
  • Let any solid fuel fire die down
  • Warn any neighbours who may suffer water damage

We will attend to reported bursts in our properties as soon as possible, but tenants must self-help by knowing where the main stopcock is for isolating the water supply. Please call 03456 081203 to report a burst pipe.

Please note that operatives and contractors may be delayed in attending any bursts if the volume of calls is very high in severe weather conditions. If road conditions are also affected this might also cause a delay in attendance.