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Thames Water Prepares for the Big Thaw 

Friday 16th December 2022 14:01

A woman in an orange jumper and gloves lags her outside pipes.

With the freezing weather conditions forecast to finally thaw next week, Thames Water has issued advice to customers to avoid leaks by preparing pipes to defrost slowly and shared what to do if they do spring a leak. 

When water freezes it expands, which can cause cracks and splits to appear in pipes. Leaks typically appear as the ice thaws and water finds the cracks to escape. Uninsulated pipes leading to outside taps, next to cold internal walls and in unheated lofts and garages are particularly at risk.   

Lagging pipes now helps the ice inside to safely melt before causing any damage. Foam tubing from DIY stores is cheap and simple to install. Burst pipes on private property are the responsibility of homeowners, so having the number of a qualified emergency plumber to hand and ensuring home insurance covers leaking pipes are sensible steps to mitigate potential damage. Locating the inside stop tap now, before it’s too late will ensure homeowners can stop the water flow as soon as a leak is spotted. 

Thames Water is also working hard to prepare for any impact from rising temperatures on its network. The predicted warmer weather could lead to ground movement, in turn causing pipes to leak or burst. The company has increased staff numbers over the coming days to have more teams available to answer calls and carry out repairs.  Non-essential work is postponed so the teams can focus as much resource as possible to support customers and look after the network. 

Thames Water is committed to supporting vulnerable customers on the Priority Services Register (PSR) by delivering bottled water to their door if they lose supply. 

Further information

  • Report a leak
  • Find out more about Thames Water’s Priority Services register
  • Drinking water is piped under high pressure and is fast-flowing so it doesn’t freeze. Most pipes are buried deep underground where they are protected from the elements. However, some pipes can expand and contract as the weather changes, which can lead to faults developing.  
  • During a supply interruption PSR customers are contacted by Thames Water’s care team for bottled water deliveries directly to their homes if they are unable to get to a collection hub. The system also gives them advanced warning of planned work which may risk an interruption to their water supply, helping customer to prepare or make alternative arrangements for themselves or their families. The service also provides tailored communication services such as bills in large print, audio, or braille.