It’s not too late to protect your home from Welsh winter water problems

1 December 2023

With temperatures set to plummet to -7°C as the cold snap continues across Wales over the next week, Welsh Water is urging customers to protect their homes.

When temperatures drop, the water in your pipes and taps can freeze. Frozen water expands and can crack even in the strongest metal pipe. You may not notice this immediately, and only know you have a problem when the cracked pipe thaws and water starts leaking from it.

Pipes and taps that are outdoors or in cold places like a loft or garage, are more susceptible to freezing and bursting and can leave homes and businesses with no water, no heating, or a costly flood.

Top 3 Danger Cold Spots:

  • Outdoor water pipes and taps.
  • Pipes in unheated places like attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.
  • Buildings that may be empty for a few days, like businesses, schools or second homes.

To prevent freezing pipes, Welsh Water is encouraging customers to act now by following top tips here, and act now to wrap exposed pipes with a lagging kit. The company is offering a limited number of free lagging kits to customers to protect exposed pipes and outdoor taps, which can be found here.

Ian Christie, Managing Director of Water, Asset Planning and Capital Delivery at Welsh Water said: “Last year was a significant winter for Welsh Water. The freeze-thaw that happened in December had a huge impact on customers across Wales. As a company, we have been doing a huge amount to prepare for the colder months including reviewing our processes and procedures, briefing staff for cold weather precautions, and preparing emergency generators for potential power disruption, should they be required.”

“To keep supplies going in the event of an incident, we’ve prepared water tanks and have strategic bottled water stores at key depots. We’ve also been loading our tankers in case of an emergency, ensuring our vulnerable customer details are up to date, and crucially, making our customers aware of how they can protect their homes too.”

“The more proactive that we can all be, as a business and our customers, the more prepared we are for winter and cold spells. It’s important that our customers are prepared for the winter months so that they can avoid costly bursts and leaks and so that we can manage pressures across the network.”

“That is why we’re asking people to check that their home or business is wrapped up and ready for winter by getting any outdoor pipes or taps lagged with a kit. It could help prevent a tremendous amount of inconvenience and expense – at the time of year when you’d least want to face it. We’re offering lagging kits to customers to help them prepare, by wrapping their pipes before it gets too cold.”

When a problem occurs on pipes in homes, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord to repair and replace so it’s important that people prepare their homes and ensure that they are ready for the cold winter months. The advice is also relevant to businesses and in particular any type of property, such as holiday homes, caravans, schools or factories, which might be left empty for a period of time over the winter.

Mike Thomson, Emergency Planning Manager at Welsh Water said: “Following last year’s freeze-thaw incident, we learnt that engaging early with key stakeholders including local councils, healthcare organisations and emergency services can bring big advantages. We have also completed a number of emergency exercises across the year to test our emergency plans against a range of scenarios, including winter weather and water supply disruption.”

“Our teams will be working 24/7 to keep things flowing, but we also need a little help from our customers, by making sure their homes and businesses are ready for winter.”

Lucy, Welsh Water customer and mum of two from Cardiff told us: "Last winter, our boiler broke down for three days leaving us without heating and hot water while I was heavily pregnant and looking after my toddler. We called a plumber out, who said there was nothing he could do because our pipes had frozen due to the cold weather and that we'd have to wait for the ice to thaw before the boiler would be able to work again. I'd urge anyone to prepare their home and wrap their pipes with a lagging kit. Luckily our boiler was working well after the ice obstruction was removed, but I'll be more careful this winter."