Freezing weather and thaw has led to increase in burst pipes
Monday, 19 December 2022: Following the freezing weather last week followed by a thaw, Irish Water continues to remind householders and businesses in Clare to check for leaks on their properties and report leaks on the public network via www.water.ie or by calling 1800 278 278.
The sub-zero temperatures in recent days have increased the number of frozen water pipes and bursts, causing increased pressure on water supplies across the county. Freezing water expands and strains the pipes until they crack or burst, not only impacting older, weakened pipes but also modern pipes that are laid in shallow ground and vulnerable to temperature drops.
Irish Water crews are on the ground, working in partnership with Clare County Council, to maintain essential water and wastewater services. Investigations into leaks caused by burst mains continue to take place at dozens of locations. While our raw water reservoirs and sources are full at this time of year, demand for water has increased and is putting pressure on the supply of treated water in our storage reservoirs.
Customers can also do their bit to help avoid expensive repairs and disrupted water supply at home or in their business by taking a few easy, preventative measures. These include checking outside pipes that can become frozen and burst during periods of cold weather and, if possible, turn off water supply to these areas or to any unoccupied premises. They can also report a leak on the public network online via Irish Water’s dedicated webpage or by calling the customer team on 1800 278 278.
We would also ask people never to leave taps running as this will not necessarily prevent pipes from freezing and can bleed the network and seriously impact your local water supply.
Derek O’Toole, Operations Lead for Irish Water offered this advice: “With the temperatures having been below freezing and some element of thaw beginning it is essential to continue the regular maintenance of your property and check premises for leaks. It also a good idea to familiarise yourself with your own internal water system and particularly how to turn off your supply at the stopcock so that you can protect your property in the event of a burst pipe.
“We also recommend that people don’t run taps continually as this is not an effective way of preventing frozen pipes and can cause other problems such as frozen drains. It also puts further pressure on water supplies that are already challenged by the freezing conditions. For example, in one rural location this year we saw an example of where a single hosepipe left running overnight resulted in 60 people being without water.
“We are constantly monitoring the levels of our reservoirs throughout the county, however, some homes and business in the county, particularly Carron and parts of North Clare, may experience low water pressure or loss of supply due to a combination of increased demand and burst watermains. To protect and maintain supply while we conduct repairs, we are asking customers to assist us by checking for bursts and overflowing troughs on their own properties , and turning these off where they are found. We are also asking customers to check unoccupied and empty premises.
“To help people avoid issues like this and stay safe, warm and comfortable during the cold snap, we have lots of helpful advice on our website, www.water.ie/winterproofing. There is also advice on general winter readiness at www.winterready.ie
The Irish Water Customer Care Team is also available to help 24/7 on 1800 278 278 and there is lots of advice on being winter ready on Twitter @IrishWater.
MORE DETAILED ADVICE
What to do if you have a burst pipe:
- A burst pipe can cause serious damage to your home so it is important to take action as soon as possible.
Limit the damage
- Turn off the water supply as instructed above
- Drain the system by turning on all the cold water taps and flushing the toilets
- Switch off the central heating and immersion. If you use solid fuel, let it die out
- When the water heating is completely off, turn on the hot taps to further drain the system
- If water from a burst pipe is leaking near any sockets, switches or appliances, switch off the mains if it is safe to do so. If the switch is wet, do not touch it, instead call a qualified electrician
- If you have a shared water supply e.g. if you live in an apartment complex, ensure you have access to the stop cock. This is usually located where the water supply enters the building
- Check with your neighbours that turning off the water has not affected their supply
Get it repaired
- You can make a temporary repair to a burst pipe by binding it tightly with a cloth or tape.
- Replace this as soon as possible by a permanent repair, carried out by a qualified and registered plumber.
- Ensure your hot water system is refilled BEFORE you switch back on your immersion or boiler.
- To report a leak please contact Irish Water on 1800 278 278 or report online via our dedicated page.
On the Farm
There are a number of ways to turn off water in buildings or areas not currently in use on the farm; it can be done by turning off the mains at the stopcock or closing the valve alongside the meter in the boundary box.
While premises or outbuildings are unoccupied, it is even more important to regularly check buildings for leaks both inside and outside and to fix any external dripping taps as the water can freeze on the ground with the potential to cause slips and falls. If you are looking for further advice or support to assist in the maintenance of your water system, there are privately-operated commercial water services and leak detection businesses which offer a range of support services.
We also have dedicated conservation advice for the agriculture sector for both Summer and Winter here https://www.water.ie/conservation/business-water-conservation/business-conservation-tip/agriculture/