Irish Water and Local Authorities are asking homes and businesses to check for leaks and to conserve water where possible whilst adhering to public health advice on hand washing and hygiene regarding Covid-19. We are asking people to do this to protect the water supply in advance of expected freezing temperatures and snow expected in the coming days. In January, following freezing temperatures and the subsequent thaw the public water network experienced a higher than normal volume of bursts. Irish Water in partnership with Local Authorities carried out hundreds of leak and burst repairs arising from the cold snap.
Speaking about the forecasted freezing weather, Tom Cuddy, Head of Operations, Irish Water, said:
As we face another spell of sub-zero temperatures over the weekend and into next week we are appealing to homes, businesses and those responsible for unoccupied buildings to check for leaks whilst adhering to current public health regulations and advice, and to turn off water where it’s not needed. We are also appealing to customers to check outside pipes in particular that can become frozen and burst during periods of cold weather and report leaks they see on the public network to us. Small efforts by everyone to conserve water wherever possible make a big difference overall and we would ask the public to only use what they need whilst continuing to adhere to public health advice on hand washing and hygiene regarding COVID-19. Simple advice on conservation includes for example taking showers over baths and fixing dripping taps where it is possible to do so
We are also reminding people with responsibility for properties that are currently unoccupied to check for leaks, whilst adhering to public health regulations and advice and turn off water where it is not required. There are lots more tips on how to conserve water in your home, business or school on our website at https://www.water.ie/conservation/
Should the freezing weather arrive there is also some simple steps to follow if your pipes freeze or burst. These can be viewed online www.water.ie/support/frozen-and-burst-pipes or below
What to do if you have a frozen pipe: If you have a basic knowledge of plumbing, these tips will help you locate and thaw a frozen pipe. If you are unsure of what to do, call a registered plumber.
Turn off the water supply, this will limit the amount of leakage or damage if a pipe bursts:
- Find and turn off your inside stop valve
- Turn off the stopcock in your cold water tank, usually located in the attic
Locate the pipe
- Check the water pressure in appliances such as taps and toilets to see if it is lower than usual
- Locate the general area where you think there may be a frozen pipe
- Check for visible pipes that are not insulated, pipes that feel much colder than others, have nearby draughts or damage
- Turn on nearby cold taps to relieve pressure on the frozen pipe. NEVER turn on the hot taps
Thaw the pipe
- If the pipe and fittings are not cracked or broken, you can try gently thawing the pipe
- Protect or move anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts when thawed
- Use a hairdryer on the lowest setting to gently warm the pipe, starting at the end nearest the ta
- NEVER attempt to thaw out frozen pipes by switching on your immersion, central heating, blow torch etc.
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.
Visit our Winter Proofing for Home page for tips. Irish Water continues to work at this time, with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services and would like to remind the public to continue to follow public health advice on handwashing and hygiene during the global health pandemic.
To report a leak please contact Irish Water on 1850 278 278
Irish Water is progressing works nationally that will help to build resilience in the water supply. Irish Water is adhering to government and HSE guidance on all construction activities in compliance with stringent Covid-19 controls. The safety of Irish Water staff, local authority staff and contractors working on our behalf remains our priority.
Checking for leaks
It is important to check for and repair leaks on your premises, especially during the cold, winter months. Business owners should be mindful of the risk of frozen pipes and possible bursts if a building is left unoccupied and unheated during a spell of very cold weather. If a commercial premises is unoccupied due to Covid-19 restrictions while there is a spell of cold weather, there is an increased risk of frozen pipes and consequent damage. Business owners should regularly inspect properties for leaks during a period of closures, whilst adhering to the public health regulations and advice.
Find out more about how to prepare for cold weather on our Winter Proofing page https://www.water.ie/support/winter-proofing/ and see our useful video on how to Winter proof your home and protect your pipes
Dealing with frozen or burst pipes
Find out more about how to deal with frozen and burst pipes https://www.water.ie/support/frozen-and-burst-pipes/ and see our useful video on What to do if you have frozen or burst pipes
Tips to help you conserve water
- Leak free: Check that your home is leak free. Check for running overflows and fix any dripping taps, cisterns or pipes
- Don’t let the tap run: Brushing your teeth with the tap running can use up to a staggering 6 litres per minute. Brushing your teeth with the tap off will use a more modest 1 litre of water
- Shower vs. Bath: The average bath uses 80 litres of water compared to an average shower using 49 litres in seven minutes. Switch your bath to a shower for a massive water saving
- Less time: With the average shower using 7 litres of water per minute by turning your five minute shower into four minutes, you could save up to 7 litres of water per day!
- Fully loaded: Always ensure your dishwasher and washing machines are fully loaded. A modern washing machine uses approximately 65 litres of water per cycle while a dishwasher uses 20 litres. By ensuring they are fully loaded, not only will you conserve water but you will also reduce your energy bills
- Don’t flush it all away: A third of all water used in the home is flushed down the toilet. Some larger cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Place a displacement device into the cistern (out of the way of moving parts) to save water
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