Protecting your home with minus five on the horizon

Ice forms on a pipe damaged in the last frost in the district.

Ice forms on a pipe damaged in the last frost in the district.

Cootamundra plumbers are still run off their feet after two consecutive nights of minus seven temperatures a fortnight ago. 

This Sunday, the mercury is forecast to drop to minus five prompting a warning to take precautions. 

Daniel Webber from DNL Plumbing said he was personally called out to more than 40 burst pipes across the district and estimates there would have been hundreds. 

He said the worst affected homes were those which had been left vacant for the weekend or longer and had no heat in the roof cavity. 

As water remaining in pipes froze it expanded causing the pipes to split, resulting in major damage in some cases. 

Water meters were also affected with upwards of 60 unprotected meters in and around Cootamundra splitting in the frost. 

Evaporative air conditioners are also particularly susceptible to heavy frosts.

Daniel recommended that to avoid finding a burst pipe when the ice thaws after a big frost, people can simply turn their water off at the meter. 

If they run taps until any remaining water disappears out of the pipes this also lessens the chance of having no water in the morning due to a blockage caused by ice, according to Daniel. 

Alternatively, to protect pipes he said people can leave a tap running. 

The movement of water in the pipe should theoretically prevent it from freezing over, however Mr Webber said this method is not foolproof and also uses a lot of water. 

When it comes to water meters he said protecting these can be as simple as wrapping an old towel around the meter if a specialist box does not exist. 

Brass meters are the ones most likely to be affected, according to Mr Webber. 

Evaporative air conditioners should be turned off at the isolation valve to prevent there being any water inside to freeze.

While frosts come hand in hand with winter in Cootamundra, Mr Webber said this year has been one of the worst years he has seen. 

“The last frost we had was extreme and did cause damage to pipes which seemed reasonably well protected,” Mr Webber said. 

He said pipes are generally able to withstand frosts up to minus three but when temperatures dip below minus five, this is when problems arise. 

With plumbers in Cootamundra experiencing busy schedules catching up on jobs from the last big freeze, it is recommended households take precautions when there is warning of a frost and avoid the hassle of trying to find a tradesperson when something does go wrong. 

The average minimum temperature for July is minus one, down on the long-term average of 1.3 degrees.