With the arrival of chillier weather and the prospect of snowy showers, a water company is asking customers to carry out a winter MOT on their homes and those of elderly family, friends and neighbours to avoid burst water pipes this winter. 

South East Water, which serves 2.2 million customers across parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, 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: “In this strange and very challenging year it is even more important to be prepared. A full winter water MOT is easy to carry out, both for your home and by signing up for all the help that is available from our company to prevent further misery and expense cold weather can bring.

“Burst pipes are a very unpleasant and inconvenient problem and when they happen inside the home or in the boundary of a property when 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.  

For the winter kit, additional advice and a video on how to protect water pipes go to southeastwater.co.uk/winter

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

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.

To sign-up for the Priority Services Register contact the Customer Care team on Freephone 0800 952 4000 or go to southeastwater.co.uk/priority

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.

More information can be found at southeastwater.co.uk/get-help/help-paying-your-bill

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