A CONSUMER watchdog is urging businesses to protect their property this winter – by guarding against burst pipes.
Each winter, businesses suffer frozen and burst pipes because they are not as prepared as they could be for exceptionally cold periods of weather.
Research by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) suggests that only one in five owners of small and medium-sized businesses are sure about the best thing to do to minimise the risk of a frozen pipe bursting.
Also a quarter of businesses do not have tanks and pipes lagged in readiness for the winter.
Most business customers, however, said they would welcome advice and guidance from their local water company or another expert source.
Tony Smith, chief executive of CCWater, said: “Winter can be a difficult time financially, but could be much worse if you have to deal with frozen and burst water pipes.
“There could be a significant impact on business, stock and customers and therefore your bottom line.
“Prevention is certainly better than cure and investing a little time and money now could save major costs and insurance claims in the longer term.”
Businesses should ensure that water pipes in cold draughty areas are insulated and make sure they insulate outside taps – or turn them off at the stop tap and drain the water from them.
If they plan to close for a few days or over Christmas period, they should leave the heating on low.
If the pipes freeze, firms should find and turn off the stop tap and make sure any nearby cold taps are turned on to allow the water to escape when it thaws.
Don't turn hot taps on until the central heating is switched off but do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged if the pipe bursts when the water thaws.
Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing.
If you can identify which pipe is frozen apply a hot water bottle or hot wet towel. If you notice a leak once pressure in the pipe has built up again, turn off the stop tap and call a plumber.