the time to check out and familiarize your plumbing system just now
will help save time, money and possible damage to your property by
Just knowing the very basics of your system. I have provided a form
for you to print out and complete during your plumbing survey. Why
not make a copy for other member of the family or person who may be
looking after your property whilst away on holiday.
Help Topics -
Locate The Stop Cock On The Rising Main
Locate & Identify Other Shut Off Valve
Isolating Gas Supply
If You Think You Smell Gas
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Thawing Frozen Pipes
Protect Your System
Keep Your House Warm
If Your House Is Unoccupied
If Your Pipes Burst
Or There Is No Water At The Taps.
After The Crisis
Office Shops & Businesses
Water Is Shut Off By Water Board
Water Is Restored By Water board
- Locate your
underground shut off valve, usually found on the pavement or road
in-line with your stopcock in the house. This is where the
incoming main can be isolated before your Stopcock.
- Quite often, the
mains valve shut-off is covered in mud or stones and may need to be
cleaned out to allow the valve to be shut off in an emergency.
Locate the stopcock on the rising main
- This is the pipe
that brings fresh water into your home.
- The stopcock
controls the flow of water and is used to shut off the entire
supply in an emergency.
- The stopcock may
be found under the kitchen sink, bathroom, cloakroom, beneath the
stairs or in the cellar or basement.
- Ensure that the
valve turns freely, if the valve has not been shut for a period of
time it may have become very Stiff, if this is the case use some
WD-40 and open & shut the valve several times to try and free it
off a bit.
- Ensure the valve
closes fully and actually isolates the water supply!
Locate & Identify other shut off valves.
- Check if there are
isolating valves on the low-pressure pipes to taps, toilet
cisterns and household appliances - these valves enable servicing
to be carried out without turning off the mains.
- They are usually
located next to the storage cistern in the loft or hot water
- Check to see they
are working correctly.
- Now would be a
good time to make a note what valves turns off the relevant water
supply in the property. Label the valves know for easier
identification later on, after all it might not be you that has to
isolate the water in an emergency.
Ensure your family
know where to Shut Off the gas supply at the isolating valve next to
the gas meter. If the meter box is outside the property ensure the
Gas key to open the door is in a place where every one knows where
to find it. If the meter is under the stairs etc., make sure there
is clear access to it at all times.
IF YOU THINK YOU SMELL GAS
- Do not
turn electric switches on or
- Do Not
use naked flames
- Do Turn Off
the gas supply at the meter.
Open doors and
windows to get rid of the small of gas.
- Call Transco Now
0800 111 999
- Do Not
use any telephone from within the
- Contact a Fox & Co to repair the gas escape if Transco are unable to repair
the fault. Transco are not Duty bound to repair the escape but
will ensure it is made safe.
- Each winter frozen
and burst water pipes inside properties cause inconvenience and
heartache to thousands of people and can result in costly damage
to buildings and furnishings.
- Most of this can
be avoided if simple precautions are taken at the right time.
- Find your main
stop valve which turns off the water to your dwelling and is
normally situated on the water pipe where it enters the building.
- Some dwellings
have the cold water supplied directly, with the hot water supplied
from a tank; others have both cold and hot supplied from a tank.
The tank may be on the roof, in the attic space or within the
dwelling. In most cases, controlling stop-cocks are situated at or
near the cistern.
- Find out what your
system is like and in particular the location of the stop valve
and what they control.
- The hot water
supply can also be controlled by a stop valve which is usually
located in the cylinder cupboard on the pipe which connects near
the bottom of the cylinder.
- This stop valve
controls the flow of water to the cylinder but does not normally
- Should it be
necessary to empty the cylinder, call a plumber.
- Un-insulated pipes
exposed to freezing temperatures are likely to become blocked with
- This commonly
occurs in cold un-insulated lofts. Garden taps are also prone to
- You may not be
aware of the problem until the water refuses to flow when you turn
on a tap.
- Trace the location
of the blockage by following the run of the frozen pipe work.
- Because copper is
a good conductor of heat, you can usually thaw a pipe using an
electric hair dryer.
- Warm the pipe
gradually, working back from the affected tap or valve.
- Treat old lead
pipe in the same way, but warm the whole pipe evenly.
- If you cannot use
a hairdryer, wrap the frozen pipe in hot towels. ·
vulnerable plumbing to prevent it freezing again.
- You can buy
lagging bandage to wrap round the pipe work, but the job is much
easier using foamed plastic tubes split lengthwise to fit over
standard size pipes.
- Insulate pipe work
in exposed places.
- Insulate the top
and sides of the cold water tank.
- Do not insulate
under it warm air rising from the room below will help stop the
- Insulate external
taps and pipes and toilet cisterns in outside lavatories. Fit
flaps of carpet, etc., at top and bottom of door to W.C.
- Have dripping taps
or faulty W.C. cisterns repaired or the waste pipe may freeze up
and cause flooding.
- See that taps are
turned off properly, especially last thing at night.
- Put plugs in
baths, wash basins and sinks.
- Stop draughts near
pipes and tanks.
- Close windows.
- Put a small heater
near pipes liable to freeze.
- Insulation is not
the complete answer to freezing up.
- It only delays the
effect of frost. Regular heating of your home is the most
effective protection during long periods of very cold weather.
House Is Unoccupied
- Leave the central
heating on for short periods to maintain a reasonable temperature.
- During winter
times it is advisable to have a neighbour regularly check your
property to ensure all is well, they may need to increase the
central heating temperature to help prevent frost damage.
- Give your
Neighbour instruction about where your water supply shuts off.
drain the water system.
- If you drain the
system: Turn off main cold water stop valve Open all taps Flush all
toilet cisterns Drain pipe work through the draining taps which
should be at the low points of your water system.
- If you do not
leave your central heating operating, then also drain this system.
Although you may drain down your plumbing / heating system, this
is no guarantee that pipes will not burst, as water will usually
remain in some of the pipe work and fittings.
- Be extremely
careful when re filling the system and do not leave it unattended
during the re filling process and for at least 1 hour after the
system is filled up.
- Shut off the water
at the stop valve and open all taps to drain the system quickly.
Isolate the power supply to immersion heaters, showers , heating
system etc. so there is no further damage to the system.
Or There is
no water at your taps
- Do not switch on
or light any water heating appliances whether fuelled by gas, oil,
solid fuel or electricity.
- Examine the water
system for fractures in pipes and fittings also for any sign of
pipes being pulled from joints.
- The presence of
ice on the outside of a pipe is often an indication that it has
- If you notice any
of these symptoms
TURN OFF THE CONTROLLING STOP VALVE and call Fox & Co .
- If no damage is
visible open all taps and thaw out pipe work with an electric fan
heater or hairdryer.
- Start at an open
end and work back from it. Cloths soaked in hot water can also be
placed on the pipe
- . Heat the
dwelling generally with appliances not connected with domestic hot
water or water-based central heating.
- If the house has
to be left unattended, shut off the main stop valve and drain down
whatever can be drained. Call a qualified plumber.
After the crisis
- If you have been
unfortunate enough to have suffered damage or inconvenience as a
result of burst pipes and flooding, have you taken action to
prevent any recurrence?
- All underground
pipes should have adequate cover of at least 30" or 750mm.
- The position or
location of pipes which have burst or frozen in the past should be
- Perhaps they can
be removed from their exposed place to a less vulnerable position,
or the area more successfully heated
- Alternatively can
their insulation be improved?
- Grants may be
available from your Local Authority for providing insulation to
the recommended standard.
Shops & Businesses
- The results of
burst pipes can be expensive causing damage to stock and
equipment, loss of business and inconvenience to your customers.
- Install trace
heating on pipe work and tanks in areas which are difficult to heat
and are exposed.
- If the premises
are to be unoccupied for any length of time (e.g.. over holiday
periods) ensure that someone is responsible for checking the
premises regularly and is able to take appropriate action in the
event of sever weather.
REMEMBER if you are a metered customer, you are liable for water
lost through bursts inside your premises. Take action NOW to avoid
- Older properties
may still have lead pipe work and some lead could be transferred
from the pipe into the water you drink.
- You may decide to
replace your lead supply and lead plumbing. If you do the water
board will replace there part of the service pipe free of charge.
- You will be
charged by your plumber for the rest of the work involved, From
the boundary of the property to your point of entry into your
- If you have a lead
supply pipe you share with your neighbours and you agree with them
to replace it, we suggest separate pipes be laid where possible.
- Although lead is
no longer considered to be a major health problem in Scotland,
with only very rare cases of lead poisoning being reported, it is
still important to ensure that lead levels in drinking water are
minimised to prevent possible effects on the intellectual
performance of children.
- Young children may
be at special risk because of their high consumption of water.
- The U.K. Water
Supply (Water Quality) Regulations specify a maximum permissible
level of lead in the water supply of 50 micrograms per litre or
parts per billion.
- A supply with a
level below that figure is regarded as satisfactory by current
- However, the World
Health Organisation has reviewed desirable standards of a number
of substances, including lead, in the light of new medical and
scientific evidence, and has recommended (in November 1993) a
reduction from its present guideline value for lead of 50
micrograms per litre to 10 micrograms per litre.
- This lower value
could in practice only be achieved by replacement of lead pipe
Any revision of the U.K. Water Quality Regulations is a matter for
- If your property
has a metal water service pipe which is used for earthing, this is
no longer thought to be safe, and has not been allowed since 1966.
- Building built
before then may still be earthed in this way.
- The increasing use
of plastic water pipes reduces the effectiveness of your pipe as
- We suggest the you
get advice from your electrical supply company or another approved
- . You may have to
pay for this service.
- Safe earthing of
electrical appliances in your house is your responsibility.
Shut Off By Water Board During Repairs To Underground Pipes
- Ensure that all
taps are turned off and are kept that way while the water supply
is off. Stopcock's) are normally located where the supply enters
- These taps should
be left in the open position.
- The Water board
can assist you in locating these taps if necessary.
- Do not drain hot
water tanks and cisterns.
- Washing machines,
dishwashers, instant water heaters, water softeners, etc. should
not be used while the water supply is off.
Restored By Water Board
- The Water Board
will inform you when the water supply is being turned back on and
will ensure that properties are occupied before restoring the
water supply to them.
- When the water is
turned on, run the cold water tap in your kitchen until the water
- If you have any
problems after the supply is restored contact the local office at
the number provided on the water mains relining notice.