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Think I have got frozen pipes!!

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CheekyChops | 15:07 Sun 26th Dec 2010 | Home & Garden
9 Answers
I've come home today after being away Christmas day and there is no water coming through any taps. The heating is on, its been on constantly for weeks now! I'm guessing my pipes are frozen and if so, how can I find out where?

Can I leave the heating on (its a combi boiler) or do I need to switch it off? The stop tap is under the boiler, on a pipe that comes up through the floor, I think I should turn this off?

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Hi CheekyChops, I think you may be jumping to a wrong conclusion. You don't say what type of property you have but if it's a house/bungalow as opposed to say a first floor flat and the mains supply comes out of the ground inside the property where the heating has been left on I would not assume your pipes are frozen. It may be your supply has been interrupted either because of a mains burst ( the water volume is greatly depleted )or the repair of a mains burst ( the water folks have turned it off). If you are in an off ground flat it is more likely.
I suggest first check with neighbours if their supply is off too then ring the water company. They should be able to tell you about any mains interruption.
If your supply really is frozen you need to find out where and a plumber may be the only answer.
As to your heating, unless you know the boiler/ system is leaking you should be ok , at least in the short term.
Question Author
Cheers, been round to next door (live in a terraced house) and their water supply is fine.
This is a tough one Cheeky ............ if the heating is working ok, there's no need to turn the boiler off. It's a sealed system .............. as long as there are no leaking rads etc, it shouldn't need any top up for weeks, or months.
Perhaps you have a suspended floor (floorboards on timber joists, with a "void" under the joists.) If a rising main passes through a cold, ventilated floor void, then it might not insulated. With the current weather, it could freeze down there.
This is all guesswork. Does your main rise near an outside wall, or is it some distance within the house?
^^^^^^ "be" insulated
Question Author
The mains pipe comes up though the floor underneath the boiler in the little room/space between the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom. There is about 6 inches of blue plastic pipe visible and then the stop tap. The main stopcock thing is on the pavement outside the front door so I assume that the pipe comes under most of the house before rising near the back.

I've got solid floors, no floorboards so not sure that there is a void.

I've been searching the internet and it looks like |I'll just have to wait until it thaws but if it bursts or springs a leak and is under the house, how will I know?
Ok, blue polyehylene pipe.......... so either a modern(ish) house, or the supply has been renewed. It sounds like the pipe has frozen somewhere around where it enters the house. This shouldn't normally happen, as it's supposed to enter the building 750mm down .......... about 2' 6" underground.
With the weather we've been having.......... guesswork, but if it rises in a particulary cold spot, maybe hit by cold ventilation, who knows? It could easily have frozen right there.
The good news is that plastic pipework usually freezes and thaws without damage, unlike copper. Turning off in the pavement would make sure that there isn't a flood when it thaws. As I said before, the heating should be ok.
I guess it's impracticable to trace the route of the pipe from stopcock to outside wall entry? (If you can get at it ............... a few kettles of hot water from next door should clear it)
Question Author
Thanks for that, feel a bit better knowing that pipe is plastic and therefore less likely to burst!! It is a modern(ish) house, only about 15 yrs old so the pipework isn't all that old.

My other half has just cleaned out the hole where the pipe comes up and he says the blue pipe goes down about a foot and then turns to come under the front of the house towards the pavement. As I said, I've got solid floors so no chance of following it!

The back part of the house where the pipe comes up is cold, there is no heating in there and a there is a vent in the back door (cus of the boiler being in there I think) which does let cold air in. Hopefully it is that bit of pipe which has frozen, hope it thaws out soonish!!

Thanks
You need to test the boiler supply to check if it IS actually frozen. It's highly unlikely to be frozen underground (when it actually rises undercover)
You need to get that room (and keep it) above freezing .. one way is to connect a frost stat to an electrical outlet to which you can plug in an oil filled radiator or electric heater.
In the interim, let the incoming thaw gradually .. don't apply direct hot heat.
Ours has done the same, we have come back after spending one night away, and all the pipes are frozen solid! I know how frustrating it is when you turn on the tap and nothing comes out and on top of that you keep forgetting and going to use stuff that requires water! :-(

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