With the arrival of chillier weather, a water company is asking its customers to carry out a winter MOT on their homes to avoid burst water pipes and check-in on elderly family, friends and neighbours, but in a Covid-safe way.

South East Water says pipes burst when exposed to extreme cold such as in attics and outside buildings. Garden taps also need protecting against the cold.

The company is also highlighting its Priority Services Register and special tariffs to help vulnerable customers and those in financial difficulties.

Steve Andrews, Head of Central Operations, said: “Usually at this time of year we ask our customers to make sure they are winter ready but in this strange and very challenging year it is even more important that a full MOT is carried out not only on their homes but by signing up for all the help that is available to prevent further misery and expense cold weather can bring.

“Burst pipes are a very unpleasant and inconvenient problem and when they occur inside the home or in the boundary of a property they are usually the responsibility of the householder to repair.

“To avoid a burst water pipe, there are some easy steps to take to protect exposed pipes and taps by lagging them with our free insulation kits and tap protectors available from our website or by buying industry approved lagging from DIY stores.”

An additional winter ready MOT job is to know where the internal stop tap is located and for people to test it works so the water can be turned off quickly when needed.

In addition, identifying and writing down now the name of a local qualified plumber can save valuable time in an emergency. The online directory WaterSafe is the plumbing industry’s national accreditation body and has a list of approved plumbers.  

 Top winter tips:

  • When away leave heating low or drain down systems
  • Insulate pipes, cisterns and tanks. Look for the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) approved insulation
  • Repair dripping taps
  • Inspect loft insulation
  • Make sure the internal stop tap works
  • Check on any elderly neighbours to make sure they are winter ready.

The company’s Priority Services Register is available for customers with medical conditions, restricted mobility, additional needs, sight and hearing issues who may need some extra support during a water supply emergency. One of the benefits is the delivery of bottled water during a supply issue.

The company also has tariffs to support customers financially including:

  • Social Tariff for customers having a household income of less than £16,105 excluding any disability payments. This tariff will cap their charges to a discounted rate, with customers on average saving about 30 per cent of their annual water and waste water charges
  • WaterSure puts a cap on metered water charges. To qualify customers must be supplied by a water meter, in receipt of a qualifying benefit or have a medical condition that requires additional usage
  • Helping Hand Scheme is funded by South East Water and offers financial assistance to clear water and waste water debt
  • Water Direct is for customers on qualifying benefits with money taken direct
  • Short Term Payment Support has a number of options to help people manage their water bill including payment breaks.

South East Water is giving away on its website http://www.southeastwater.co.uk free winter water saving kits to help customers save water and money on their energy bills during the colder weather. The freebie kits include pipe lagging and garden tap guards to help prevent the misery when a pipe bursts in freezing weather.

To sign up for the register go to https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/priority  ring 0800 952 4000 or email customer.care@southeastwater.co.uk. People struggling financially to pay water bills can find help at https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/helptopay

The name of a qualified plumber can be found at watersafe.org.uk or by calling call 0333 207 9030

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