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Pipe problems

Banging pipes

  • Your pipes might not be secured properly and fast moving water is causing them to shake against floorboards or walls. Locate the noise and secure the pipe to avoid it hitting anything as too much movement can cause pipes to loosen at the joints and spring leaks
  • Movement in hot water pipes can be caused by the temperature of the water. Try turning the thermostat on your boiler down as it may be set too high, resulting in some of the water actually boiling. This creates steam in the system, causing air pockets and an erratic flow of water
  • Perhaps the mains supply has been switched off or the feed and expansion cistern (normally in the loft) may have run dry, causing a lack of water in the system. Check it hasn’t jammed or that any pipes feeding it are not frozen. If you solve the issue, you may need to repressurise the system following the instructions on your boiler

Creaking pipes

This is often caused by the pipes rubbing against floorboards or joists when they expand and contract. Try to locate the area they rub and either make the space around the pipes a little larger or cushion them with insulation. If the rubbing is on a joist, you can widen the space but never make it deeper as you’ll weaken the joist.

How to protect pipes from freezing

  • Fix any dripping taps as soon as possible because dripping water increases the risk of freezing
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roofs, garages and outbuildings
  • Leave kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open. This allows warmer air to circulate and reach pipes under sinks and in adjacent walls
  • Insulate any toilet cisterns, water tanks or pipes in exposed areas or unheated outbuildings. If they’re not going to be in use, drain them for winter
  • Leave your heating on a low setting if your home is going to be empty for a while
  • Leave the loft hatch door open. Warmer air will then be able to reach the loft to help prevent the cold water tank from freezing
  • Fit your water tank with an insulation jacket or wrap the top and sides with suitable insulation material. Don’t put loft insulation under the tank as this stops heat from the house reaching the tank
  • If you’re going away for a long time, switch off your water supply and drain the system

Thawing a frozen pipe

Gentle heat is the key. Using a hairdryer, gradually work along the pipe until the water starts to flow. You can also use a hot water bottle or towels soaked in hot water. Never use a blowtorch.