Be prepared for the thaw, advises South West Water
3rd March 2018
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The milder weather after the recent sub-zero temperatures across the region is certainly welcome – but also poses its own problems.

  South West Water is advising customers to be prepared for an increase in burst pipes caused by the thaw.


Customer Services Manager Jo Ecroyd said: “During very cold weather, frozen pipes can be a problem for our customers. But when the thaw comes, we are likely to see a rise in the number of burst pipes both on our customers’ own pipework and across the mains network.

 “Customers can help themselves and us by identifying whether the problem is inside their house or not. If the leak or burst is on their own pipes, the best thing to do is to call a plumber. However if you and your neighbours are out of water or losing pressure, that could be a sign of a burst or leaking mains pipe and we need to hear about it to start helping you. 

“We are very aware that some of our customers are already experiencing interruptions to their water supplies caused by burst mains which we cannot see while the ground is covered by snow. Because of the snow and icy conditions these areas have also been difficult to access. Whilst working safely our people have been working around the clock, often on foot, to identify where these burst are.  

“As soon as we are able to locate each burst we will undertake repairs. When this happens we may need to interrupt water supplies. With this in mind we would suggest customers store some water just in case. 

“Where customers are out of water for significant periods because of bursts on our network, we are contacting customers who we are aware need water for medical conditions and arranging to deliver bottled water where possible.


“We would also ask customers to check that their garden taps are turned off and not using water and to use water wisely at this time.” 

If you need to report a burst main or leaking pipe outside your home, please call South West Water on 0344 346 2020. If you have leaking water or frozen and burst pipes inside your property please call a local plumber. 

What to do if you discover a problem:


  1. If you don't have any water check with neighbours. If they still have water, your pipes may be frozen
  2. Check pipes for signs of a split - a leak or burst will not occur until the water has thawed
  3. Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
  4. If the central heating and any other water heating appliances are already on, keep on. However, if they are currently turned off do not be tempted to switch them on to thaw frozen pipes as this could cause damage.
  5. Drain the cold water system only by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks and baths
  6. If you don't find any damage, turn on all the taps and thaw the frozen pipe using a warm towel or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel
  7. When the pipes have thawed and you're sure no damage or leak has occurred, turn off the taps and slowly switch the supply back using the internal stop tap
  8. Check the pipes again now that they are under pressure and check again for signs of damage or a leak before switching on water heating appliances
  9. If you discover a leak or burst pipe, call a reputable plumber immediately. South West Water supports approved contractor schemes and a list of approved contractors can be found on the WaterSafe website or by calling 0333 207 9030.

There is more cold weather advice on the South West Water website: 

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Colin S

Member since: 27th February 2014

Hi, I am Colin Slade, I am the New Business Manager here at thebestof Exeter and I handle lots of the PR and News stories for our clients

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