Property damage caused by the escape of water from frozen pipes and other equipment can be extremely costly in both repairs and disruption to business. The guidance offers some useful advice to prevent freezing and suggested action to minimise damage.
- Ensure that all areas containing pipes and water storage tanks are heated to prevent freezing.
- Heating should be thermostatically controlled to maintain a minimum temperature.
- Fuel supplies and any associated equipment should be periodically tested and maintained. This is particularly critical where “interruptible” gas supplies are used.
- Pipes should be lagged to delay the temperature drop. Use 32mm thick good quality, non-combustible lagging securely fixed to all piping including expansion pipes.
- Tanks should be lagged around and over, but not underneath so that heat from below can rise.
- Minimise pipe-runs outside, or in areas exposed to winds.
- Wet pipe sprinkler systems should be avoided where the temperature cannot be kept above 4°C, the use of alternate or dry pipe systems should be considered.
Action To Minimise Damage
- Tenants, managers and agents should know the location of all stopcocks inside the premises as well as the main incoming valve in the street. The stopcocks should be periodically exercised to ensure that they are in working order.
- Someone should be responsible for any sprinkler system, its water supply and pump room. Ensure that buildings are inspected to identify frozen or leaking pipes at an early stage.
- Review and update emergency contact procedures.
- Responsible staff should know how to thaw pipes safely:− Isolate the pipe by closing the stopcock on the feed from the tank or main.
− Expect a thawed pipe to leak water, so protect items beneath it.
− Do not use blow torches, hot air paint strippers or naked flames.
− Use hot water bottles or a hair dryer.
The guidance contains a useful tick-box system in PDF format so can be completed on-screen if you prefer not to print the document.