Thames Water takes action to protect customers from freezing conditions

By Swindon Link - 29 January 2019

CommunityHealthBusinessHome and Garden

With a Met Office weather warning for snow in place over the coming days, Thames Water is reassuring customers action has been taken to keep the taps running.

Following the Beast from the East last year, the UK’s largest water company has implemented a range of measures to protect customers during the worst conditions using its advanced weather modelling technology.

When a cold snap is forecast, the likelihood of leaks and bursts goes up so the amount of water stored in Thames Water’s reservoirs is increased to ensure there is still enough to reach customers’ taps.  There are now more teams available to fix pipes than last year while the company’s drivers have been trained to get to repairs safely in the worst conditions. Snow ploughs are also stationed at key operational sites. 

There are now more communications agents working around the clock in call centres, online and on the ground to ensure customers have the latest information while partnerships have been established with community groups so there is better understanding of those living in vulnerable circumstances.

Thames Water’s Danny Leamon said: “The freezing temperatures and rapid thaw during the Beast from the East showed how these extreme conditions can impact our network. We have learnt a lot of lessons from this and taken action to prepare ourselves should we see similar temperatures again.

“But we would also ask our customers to do what they can to make sure they’re ready, including protecting their properties and ensuring friends, family and neighbours are also prepared.”

Although the snow may pass, cold weather is set to be in place for a number of weeks so people are being urged they do everything they can to get prepared.

With repairs ranging from £133 to £449 for various domestic pipe leaks and bursts, customers are being asked to service their boilers, bleed the radiators, check loft insulation and ensure pipes have been lagged. 

People who would struggle to collect bottled water, such as the elderly or those with children to look after, are also being asked to sign up to Thames Water’s Priority Service Register.

This means Thames Water can ensure bottled water is delivered to their home so they do not need to go out in the cold weather, in the event of service disruption.

People who need to sign up to the register can do so by visiting www.thameswater.co.uk

If you think a pipe is frozen you should:

  • Turn off your water stop tap. 
  • Turn on all the cold taps in the house to allow the water to escape when it starts to thaw.
  • Remove items from around the frozen pipe. You can use a hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel, pushed against the pipes to help try thaw the pipes out. Be sure to start from the end nearest the tap. Alternatively, you can take a hair dryer and, starting at the end nearest the tap use it on the low setting to warm the frozen pipe. This may take a while but be sure to keep the hair dryer and any electrical items a safe distance from the defrosting pipe.
  • Once the pipes have thawed, double check there are no leaks before turning the water back on. You can do this by running dry kitchen paper towels along the pipe and checking to see if there are any wet patches on the kitchen paper when you’re done.

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