Leaks rise as water pipes thaw

WATER bosses in the region have been inundated with an unprecedented number of calls from customers with leaks and burst pipes following the big freeze.

Since Christmas Eve United Utilities has seen the number of calls it receives during the festive period rocket to 40,000 – 10 times the usual amount.

Now temperatures have risen the risk of leaks and bursts hitting pipework has also risen, which can happen as when the ice melts after a prolonged period of very cold weather the ground can move, putting unusual amounts of stress on the network’s pipes.

And above ground frozen pipework in customers’ homes and businesses is beginning to thaw out leading to bursts and leaks.

Scott Beard, United Utilities’ Regional Water Network Manager, said: “It is not unusual to see the number of bursts increase when the temperature shifts after a prolonged cold snap.

“We are fully geared up, with extra call takers, engineers and specialist leak detection teams all giving up their holidays and working round the clock.

“We have also brought in additional 4X4 vehicles, to make sure our engineers can get to more remote areas which are still snowbound.

“We are asking the public to help us by checking on any empty properties where they hold the keys, such as business premises or neighbours’ homes. We want to avoid leaks in locked up buildings causing water supply problems for neighbouring houses.”

The company has issued advice to be followed when checking empty buildings, including checking whether there are any obvious signs of a burst pipe, and running a tap to check whether there are any frozen pipes.

If there are any problems with the water supply, try to find the internal stop tap, which is usually under the kitchen sink, and turn it off as this will help minimise any water loss if pipes have frozen and cracked and are about to thaw out.

Customers are also being urged to report any leaks or bursts in the street on a dedicated freephone leak line 0800 330033.

Mr Beard added: “While we can’t help with bursts on internal pipework, we will do what we can to help fix customers outside private connection pipe to our water main free of charge, as long as our engineers can gain access to the pipe.”

For more tips visit www.unitedutilities.com