As temperatures drop, the chances of frozen pipes increase and Northumbrian Water is urging customers to wrap up their water pipes as well as themselves, to guard against the misery of burst pipes this winter.

By taking a few simple precautions now, people can protect their homes to prevent potential damage, stress and expensive repairs in the event of a big freeze.

To download an information leaflet about protecting your home or business against frozen pipes go to:

To prevent pipes from freezing:

• Insulate water tanks and lag pipes.
• Pay special attention to unheated areas like lofts and garages.
• Check unoccupied properties regularly.
• Fix dripping taps.
• Make sure you know where your stopcock is.
• Check that your boiler has been serviced.
• Minimise draughts from doors and windows.
• If you are away, leave the heating on low.
• If properties are unoccupied for a long time turn off the stopcock.
• Drain outdoor taps and wrap with an outdoor tap jacket.
• Remember garages and outbuildings, and check water supplies and insulation.

Andrew Blakemore, Northumbrian Water’s Network Services Manager said: “There are many simple tips customers can use to be prepared this winter.

“It’s not just people who need to keep warm and wrap up with extra layers in winter, water pipes and tanks also need protection against the elements. By following our simple advice, customers can keep their homes frost-free and avoid costly plumbing bills and a huge amount of inconvenience during severe weather conditions.”

If pipes do freeze:

• Turn off the water supply.
• Check if the pipe has burst.
• Open affected tap slowly and thaw with a hairdryer, hot water bottles or towel soaked in hot water.
• Frozen pipes should never be thawed with a naked flame or blowtorch.

Customers looking for a local, approved plumber on hand to help them this winter are being advised by Northumbrian Water to visit and use the online directory.

Andrew also has a request: “If you spot a leak in the street, you can help us by reporting it on our free dedicated leak-line 0800 393 084.

“After you have reported a leak we visit the site, locate and identify the problem and if a leak is found we mark it in blue for repair. If the leak is within a customer’s property boundary we will make an appointment if necessary.

“We prioritise leaks based on how serious they are and we know it can sometimes look as if it′s been a while before we′ve been able to fix it, but rest assured it has not been forgotten about.”