Cold Weather Update from South West Water
South West Water staff are working around the clock in very difficult conditions to maintain essential services to customers. Remote strategic sites across the region were manned overnight to ensure that freezing temperatures and power cuts did not interrupt the production of drinking water or treatment of wastewater.
Gangs on the ground are working hard to repair burst drinking water mains affecting customers’ supplies, with repairs prioritised according to the number of customers affected, the potential amount of water lost and whether a burst is a danger to public safety.
Around 50 hardy staff walked to the company’s Exeter-based call centre today to ensure that customer calls are answered. The company has temporarily closed its Billing and Accounts helpline so that as many staff as possible are able to answer emergency calls to the Services helpline.
Customers Services Director Jo Ecroyd said:
“As you can imagine, lots of customers’ pipes are frozen due to the extremely cold weather we are experiencing.
“We are doing our best to answer every call but it may take longer to get through than usual, due to the volume of calls we are receiving and the fact that some of our staff do not live within walking distance of the call centre so haven’t been able to get to work today.
“We have deployed as many staff as possible to the Services helpline but in the meantime, customers can help themselves and us by identifying whether the problem is inside their house or not.
“If the leak or burst is on their own pipes, the best thing to do is to call a plumber. However if you and your neighbours are out of water or losing pressure, that could be a sign of a burst or leaking mains pipe and we need to hear about it to start helping you.”
If you need to report a burst main or leaking pipe outside your home, please call South West Water on 0344 346 2020. If you have leaking water or frozen and burst pipes inside your property please call a local plumber.
What to do if you discover a problem:
-If you don’t have any water check with neighbours. If they still have water, your pipes may be frozen
-Check pipes for signs of a split – a leak or burst will not occur until the water has thawed
-Turn off the supply using the internal stop tap
-If the central heating and any other water heating appliances are already on, keep on. However, if they are currently turned off do not be tempted to switch them on to thaw frozen pipes as this could cause damage.
-Drain the cold water system only by flushing the toilet and opening cold taps over sinks and baths
-If you don’t find any damage, turn on all the taps and thaw the frozen pipe using a warm towel or hot water bottle wrapped in a towel
-When the pipes have thawed and you’re sure no damage or leak has occurred, turn off the taps and slowly switch the supply back using the internal stop tap
-Check the pipes again now that they are under pressure and check again for signs of damage or a leak before switching on water heating appliances
-If you discover a leak or burst pipe, call a reputable plumber immediately. South West Water supports approved contractor schemes and a list of approved contractors can be found on the WaterSafe website www.watersafe.org.uk or by calling 0333 207 9030.
There is more cold weather advice on the South West Water website: www.southwestwater.co.uk/getreadyforwinter