Advice for water, electricity, oil and gas consumers during severe weather.

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1 Advice for water, electricity, oil and gas consumers during severe weather. The Consumer Council WATER AND FROZEN PIPES When we experience freezing temperatures, it is possible that water pipes can freeze and burst. You are responsible for the pipes within your property. Below are some simple steps you can take to help avoid frozen pipes and what you should do if you have a burst pipe. Being prepared and avoiding frozen pipes Make sure pipes and tanks are insulated in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces, garages and outbuildings. Insulation material can be bought from DIY and Plumbing stores and costs from 50 pence to 3.50 per metre. Find the internal stop tap/valve in your property. This is normally, but not always, under the kitchen sink. You should know how to turn it off. Test that it is working. You can contact NI Water to get a Stop Valve Tag to loop around the stop valve in your property by telephoning This will help you find the right pipe in an emergency. NI Water has a video on its website, which shows you how/where to look for pipes that can potentially freeze and how to turn off your water if a burst happens. Watch the video at Write down the contacts details of a qualified plumber. NI Water recommends using an Approved Plumbing Contractor. Details can be found on or by telephoning the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumber Employers Federation (SNIPEF) during normal office hours on It is worth taking down the telephone numbers of a few plumbers in case you have to try more than one during an emergency or a busy time. Fix dripping taps as a small trickle of water can freeze completely and block the pipe. Get your boiler serviced regularly by a qualified plumber. Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of your property are kept closed and minimise any drafts from outside.

2 If you are going away leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member that can check your home for frozen pipes. Show them where the internal stop tap/valve is and how to turn if off. If your property is not in use for a long period of time it is advisable to turn the water supply off at the stop tap/valve and even consider emptying your water tank completely to lessen the possibility of burst pipes going undetected causing property damage and the waste of water. NI Water offers a range of free services for consumers who have a disability, are an older consumer, have a serious medical condition or need extra help for any other reason. Contact NI Water on to find out more information and register. If your pipes freeze Turn off your water supply at the internal stop tap/valve. Thaw along the pipe starting at the end nearest the tap. Wrap warm cloths or hot water bottles around the pipe or use a hair dryer at its lowest setting. Don t heat the pipes too quickly as this could make them burst. Don t use a blow lamp or naked flame. Don t leave taps dripping or running as the pipes below may be frozen. Call a qualified plumber if you need advice. If a pipe bursts Turn off the stop tap/valve. Use towels to stop escaping water. Turn ON all your taps to reduce flooding. Call a qualified plumber. When the burst pipe has been fixed remember to turn OFF all your taps. If you have checked the pipes on your property and they are not burst or frozen, and you still have no water supply, contact NI Water on For more information about frozen pipes contact Waterline on or visit Waterline is open 24/7.

3 INSURANCE Insurance You should make sure your property and contents insurance covers severe weather conditions. Read your policy to see how you are covered. If you are not, contact your insurance company and amend your policy or shop around for a new policy. If you cannot find your policy, contact your insurance provider who will send you another copy or advise you on what your policy covers. Keep your insurance documents along with a torch and a few other essentials in a waterproof box in case of an emergency flood, leak or power cut. If your house or its contents are damaged as a result of burst pipes, a flood or a power cut check your policy to make sure you are covered and contact your insurance company immediately. They will advise you on how best to put in a claim. If you have a complaint about how your insurance company is dealing with your claim, tell the company first. This will allow them the opportunity to put things right. If you are still unhappy, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service. Its contact details are below. Telephone: free for people phoning from a fixed line (for example, a landline at home) free for mobile-phone users who pay a monthly charge for calls to numbers starting 01 or 02 The Financial Ombudsman is open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and will be happy to phone you back, if you re worried about the cost of calling. Website: ELECTRICITY Electricity Power Cut Main contact: NIE Telephone: Website: An electricity power cut can happen at any time, without warning. You can be prepared for a power cut by following the tips below: Know where your household fuses and trip switches are so that you can direct an engineer to them if you need to;

4 It is preferable to use a torch, oil or gas lamps rather than candles when your electricity is off. Make sure you know where these are; If you have a baby at home, make sure you have a supply of formula baby milk and prepare a flask of hot water to heat bottles and baby food; If you depend on electrical equipment that is vital to your health, contact NIE to get on its Critical Care Register on If your electricity goes off: Check if your neighbours have also lost supply; If your power is off and you want more information, contact NIE s Customer Helpline on have your customer number (you will find it on a bill) and postcode ready; Check that electrical appliances and machinery are switched off at the wall; Leave one light on so you know when your power is restored; If you must use naked flames, please take extra care and make certain that they are put out before you go to bed; Check on elderly neighbours in your area to make sure they are ok; Avoid driving your car. If you must drive be extra careful as street and traffic lights in your local area may also be disrupted. When your electricity comes back on: Turn on and reset appliances when the electricity is restored (e.g. timers, water heater, burglar alarm). HOME HEATING OIL Oil 1. Check your oil tank regularly. 2. If you need to order oil: Consider delivery time as well as price when you shop around. To find the cheapest oil in your area, use the Consumer Council s online oil price checker 3. If you do run out of oil you can buy an emergency oil drum, (beware that the these drums are often three times (per litre) more expensive than a regular fill). Only use emergency oil drums as a stop gap until your oil delivery arrives. There is also some very helpful, practical advice and information on Age UK s website:

5 GAS If you smell gas, call the Gas Emergency Service on Make sure your gas appliances are serviced once a year. Be Gas Safe and only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix or service your gas appliances. Visit for more information. Customer Care Schemes Both Phoenix Supply Ltd and firmus energy have customer care schemes that provide services for customers with specific needs. For more information contact your gas supplier: Phoenix Supply Ltd Telephone Minicom Website - firmus energy Telephone Textphone/Minicom Website: For further information visit or telephone Insurance Oil

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