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Householders urged to prepare for cold weather snap

Published: Wed, 17 Dec 2014
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Keeping warm this winter
Age NI Spread The Warmth winter campaign
We are urging householders in Northern Ireland to take simple steps to avoid burst pipes and “Don’t freeze up this winter”.
During spells of severely cold weather the water pipes in your home may freeze, which can result in a burst pipe when the weather warms up.
In the event of an emergency repair being required, our tenants can telephone our 24 hour repair line 03448 920 901.
In addition, urgent or routine repairs can be reported through our website or email our out of hours emergency services
The following advice will help all householders prepare for and deal with severe weather conditions.  Further information is available on our website


The following simple precautions will help stop the pipes in your home from freezing during severe cold spells.

Help prevent your pipes from freezing

  • Set the central heating to come on for short periods throughout the day.
  • If you feel you are able to, lift the trap door slightly from the roof space to allow warm air to get into the loft.  This should only be done as a temporary measure and should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Open the doors to the sink unit to allow warmer air to circulate round the pipes.
  • If you are away, ask someone to turn the heating on for a short time and check for frozen pipes.

Dealing with frozen pipes

  • Turn the water supply off at the stopcock.
  • Protect everything around the pipe that appears to be frozen to avoid damage if it bursts.
  • Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so the water can flow through when it has melted.
  • Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep it well away from any water), beginning from the tap end and working back towards the cold water tank.  Never use a heat gun or blow torch.
  • If you have a solid fuel roomheater or an open fire with a back boiler, you should let your fire go out.
  • If you have oil, gas or wood pellet boilers you should reduce your water usage, but you can continue to run your heating at a low setting.

Find your stopcock

The stopcock is used for turning off and on the cold water system in your home.  When you turn the stopcock in a clockwise direction the water supply will be shut off.
Stopcocks are usually found in your kitchen, below the sink unit.  However in some houses the stopcock is found in a front or back hall or in a larder unit.  It is important that you know where the stopcock is and that it is working.

What should I do if I have no water?

  • If your water supply fails, the problem may be a burst pipe in your home or there may be a leak in the mains system outside your home.
  • If there is cold water at the cold tap in the kitchen then the mains supply is working.
  • If you think it is a mains supply problem, call NI Water on 08457 440 088 or email:

If you have a burst pipe

  • Turn off the water by turning the stopcock clockwise.
  • Turn on all the cold taps.
  • Block the escaping water with thick cloths like towels.
  • If the water has come into contact with electrical fittings the electricity should be turned off at the mains if it is safe to do so.  If water has come into contact with the Mains box, do not touch or use any electrical equipment in the house.
  • Turn off your gas or oil heating systems.
  • If you have a solid fuel roomheater or an open fire, let it go out