Protecting Your Home During Extreme Cold Spells


In Ireland, everyone talks about the weather and as Irish weather can be extremely unpredictable it’s good to be prepared, especially if we go through another big freeze like in 2010! 

Here we have outlined some ways to help you know what to do if an extreme cold spell comes our way and also if the unthinkable happens and your pipes freeze/burst, a few steps on what you can do!

What should be done during an extreme cold spell?

  • Keep your heating running at a constant temperature 24/7 during the cold weather event.
  • Try to insulate your stopcock or meter box by covering it.
  • Check that attic insulation is laid over, and under pipes in the attic
  • If it is practical and safe to do so, open your attic trap door to allow warm air up into the attic space.
  • Insulate and cover any outdoor taps as these are very prone to bursting.
  • Vacant properties should be checked on a daily basis, and should have constant heating or have the water supply turned off and drained down.
  • Check on elderly or unwell neighbours who might need assistance in obtaining water.


What should be done if your pipes freeze?

  • If there is no water from the cold tap at your kitchen sink, it is likely that the supply pipe onto your property has frozen. Typically these freeze at the point at which the pipe enters the house (it is often shallow at this point) or at the stopcock although it may freeze at any other point which had been laid too shallow.  You may be able to thaw a frozen stop cock by wrapping it in warm towels
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe in the attic or other exposed pipe by wrapping it in warm towels or using a hot water bottle. Do not use any device with a naked flame on pipes – it can cause the water in the pipe to boil and could burst explosively. Also be aware if using an electrical appliance to thaw pipes that if the pipe has burst that there could be a risk of electrocution when the pipe thaws.
  • Check with your City/County Council about supply problems in your area. These will be advertised on regular local radio adverts and on your City/Council website.
  • Once the thaw sets in or your supply is restored, make sure you check for any leaks or bursts which might have occurred.

What should be done if a pipe bursts?

  • Turn off your stopcock. Open your hot and cold taps and allow all of the water to drain out.
  • Switch off your electricity supply at the mains if there is any risk of water coming in contact with electrical wiring or fittings.
  • If you live in an apartment, terraced or semi-detached house, warn your neighbours in case the burst pipe causes flooding in their property. Check with your neighbours to ensure that it is only your own water supply that you have shut off.
  • Contact your local qualified plumber to arrange to make repairs.


View our top tips on how to prepare your home for winter here.