Scottish Water is urging householders and businesses to think ahead and follow its simple winter code to protect their pipes, and keep the water cycle running smoothly, before any spells of cold weather this winter.
The Scottish Water winter campaign recommends a three-point guide to help avoid the misery, inconvenience and cost of failing to be prepared and take measures to prevent frozen or burst pipes caused by freezing conditions.
The Scottish Water Winter Code advises anyone with a home, holiday home or business premises to take action to heat, insulate and protect their properties.
The campaign is backed by Sean Batty, the STV weather forecaster, who said: “The winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11 were characterised by cold, snowy conditions, which brought numerous problems across the country.
“Since then, we have avoided really cold conditions but instead we’ve had milder and stormier weather which, of course, brings its own issues.
“In recent winters, we’ve had more storm and flood damage as opposed to ice and snow.
“Last winter, temperatures were about a degree above normal for much of the country but we experienced terrible flooding at the start of this year across Tayside and Aberdeenshire.
“The Met Office and Met Eirann also started naming our storms to raise more public awareness and to make people more prepared for bad weather.
“Last year, we had 11 named storms from Abigail to Katie. This storm season, we will start with Storm Angus but I hope we’re not on Holly by Christmas.
“So, in the last seven years we’ve had swings from severe cold and ice to severe storms and floods. This recent experience tells us that we must be prepared for all the elements that can be thrown at us during the winter months.
“It’s important that sensible and simple actions are taken to protect our homes and businesses against Mother Nature.”
Scottish Water’s winter campaign is being supported by an information leaflet that provides important and helpful guidance on what steps to take to help prevent a frozen or burst pipe, how to locate a stop valve, what to do in an emergency and how Scottish Water can help.
Bill Elliot, Scottish Water’s regional community team manager said: “Anyone who has returned to their house or work to find everything ankle deep in freezing water with carpets, furniture and equipment all ruined, will know only too well of the misery a burst pipe in winter can cause.
“But by taking action to heat, insulate and protect properties, customers can avoid the considerable headache and heartache caused by burst pipes. We want to work with our customers to ensure we are all prepared for whatever winter weather we get.
“Preventing frozen pipes also means we all play a part in ensuring the water cycle never stops. Water is a precious resource and Scottish Water puts a lot of work into keeping it that way. Water pouring straight back into the drains as a result of a burst pipe that could have been prevented costs us all money.”
The key advice in our winter code is:
• Heat: Warmth offers the best protection against frozen pipes, so leave your heating on a low setting. If you are going away, ensure someone can visit regularly to check for any problems. If the property is vacant over winter, turn off the water supply and drain the system.
• Insulate: Ensure your water tank is fitted with an insulation jacket or wrapped with suitable insulation material. Water pipes, tanks or toilet cisterns in unheated outbuildings or exposed places should also be insulated. If not in use over winter, have them drained.
• Protect: Dripping water increases the risk of freezing, so repair any leaks at taps or valves as soon as possible. Also reduce draughts, which can cause frozen pipework, by fitting draught excluders on doors and windows.
Other important advice in the Scottish Water winter campaign includes tips on heating your property more effectively, finding and using your stopcock, keeping a small emergency pack handy and keeping an eye out for the elderly and those who might need additional support.
As property owners prepare to close up their cottages and cabins for winter, Scottish Water is also urging holiday home owners to follow the winter code.
The threat to holiday homes, which are often unoccupied in winter, is very real and often burst pipes aren’t noticed until neighbours lose their water supply or damage is caused.
VisitScotland is backing Scottish Water’s advice to holiday home owners.
Colin Houston, VisitScotland industry manager, said: “Scotland is renowned for its warm welcome and as we move into the colder months that shouldn’t be limited to its people.
“Owners should ensure their holiday properties are prepared for a sudden change in temperature to help prevent any unwelcome surprises when they, or their guests, arrive at their properties during this season and next. Scotland in winter is a wonderful time of year and we want all visitors to experience its wonder in the best way possible and so property owners need to do what they can to not only meet visitor expectations, but exceed them.”
This year, Scottish Water is also offering a free stop valve sticker, allowing property owners the chance to write the name and contact number of their local licensed plumber so that it is handily placed in case of emergency.
As one of the largest businesses in Scotland, Scottish Water is also taking steps across its operation to ensure it is well equipped to continue delivering the best service it can in the event of a severe winter.
Employees will be working around the clock to maintain drinking water supplies to our 2.4 million household customers and more than 150,000 businesses.
Customers should visit www.scottishwater.co.uk/winter where they can find winter information, films and advice.
To apply for a free stop valve sticker write to: Customer Marketing, Free Stop Valve Sticker, PO Box 8855, Edinburgh EH10 6YQ or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Scottish water on Twitter @scottish_water #SWwinter and Facebook www.facebook.com/scottishwater for up to date information and advice.
Customers can now receive free texts (SMS) to keep up to date about Scottish Water work or service updates, such as having no water supply, in their area – text ‘Update’ with your postcode to 82228.