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Surviving Winter: Tips for Protecting Your Home’s Drainage System

30th October 2023

The winter season can be a troublesome time for drainage systems in the UK with different meteorological challenges hitting households like a giant snowstorm or bitter frost, grinding your drainage system, pipes, and showers to a halt, much like what happens to the nation when the first sign of snow hits the ground. At Cotswold Drainage, we are the leading experts in dealing with the hardships and challenges you may face during the wintertime, with services ranging from unblocking your drains to repairing house drainage systems. But we like to offer our assistance in any way we can. That’s why, we have a comprehensive guide on the best tips and advice for protecting your home’s drainage system during the winter.

Problems with your drainage system are important to sort out as soon as possible, as certain issues can damage your property. Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or a first-time property owner preparing for the cold, dismal British winter ahead, this guide will provide you with all the insight you could need to keep your drainage system running smoothly.

Understanding Winter Drainage Challenges

The British weather is synonymous with being unpredictable. One minute there’s blue sky the next it’s tipping it down! The winter weather becomes a bit more predictable with freezing temperatures and heavy rain or snow. These harsh conditions can take their toll on your drainage system – but how exactly?

The first issue is freezing pipes. One of the most dreaded challenges homeowners face during winter – the water inside your pipes can turn to ice which expands inside the pipes leading to blockages, bursts and a host of other problems.

Ice doesn’t just affect your pipes. Ice can accumulate in gutters and waterspouts, disrupting the flow of water and causing backups and potential damage to your home’s exterior.

The heavens often open during winter and many areas across the UK are susceptible to flooding, and with the sub-zero temperatures creating ice, localised flooding can occur leading to drainage problems. As the ground freezes and thaws, it can create uneven surfaces that channel water in unexpected directions, resulting in flooding in low-lying areas.

Preparing Your Drainage System for Winter

Whether it’s for an interview, a date, the winter season, or the seemingly inevitable nuclear apocalypse, preparation is key. There are several methods to prepare your property for the coming cold, with relatively simple solutions that even the most novice DIYer can do.

You’ve got to start with your gutters. Clearing them of leaves, debris and dirt will prevent them from clogging up which can become a major issue when ice is introduced to the equation. Along with your gutters, ensure downspouts are free from obstructions so your water can run freely. If you have any overhanging branches around your drains, trim them also, as leaves during the Autumn can fall into your drains, as well as the branches potentially damaging your drainage system during a winter storm.

Another great way to prepare for the winter is to check for any leaks or damage, such as cracks, that can become more problematic when the temperature drops. If any damage is found, booking a repair with Cotswold Drainage is the best course of action.

Preventing Freezing and Burst Pipes

As winter’s icy grip tightens, the threat of frozen and burst pipes becomes a higher concern. Proactive measures are necessary to prevent this and can be done in several effective ways, so you aren’t hit with the financial burden of costly repairs.

Many homeowners won’t know that you can insulate your pipes with easily accessible pipe insulation sleeves. They are easy to install and cover vulnerable pipes that are susceptible to freezing. Next up is letting your taps and faucets drip slightly. With the small, but continuous flow of water in your pipes, freezing will be prevented. You’re probably thinking, “My water bill in December is going to be huge!” Don’t worry, let your faucets drip a little during cold snaps to see effective results, it won’t cost that much really – and is cheaper than a blocked pipe.

Another easy preventative measure is to keep the cabinets where your pipes are located, whether under the sink or in cabinets against walls, open to allow warm air to circulate the pipes. The things to look out for if your pipes may be freezing up are condensation on the pipes, any noticeable bulges, nasty smells coming from your drains, gurgling or banging sounds and slow or limited water flow.

Finally, a great tip is to disconnect and drain your garden hoses, as water left inside can freeze and damage the hose and connecting pipes.

Following these useful tips will mean you will have a well-prepared drainage system for winter and prevent the nightmare of frozen and burst pipes.

Dealing with Excess Rain and Flooding

It’s not just the freezing tempest of Britain you’ll have to prepare for but the cataclysmic torrents of rain also. With heavy rain comes flooding so it’s important to provide counteractive solutions to tackle this issue.

You can redirect water away from your home with proper drainage channels and diverters. Also, sloping the ground away from your home can help direct rainwater away from its foundation, and installing rain barrels can capture and reroute excess water. Installing gutter extensions or downspout diverters to channel water away from your home’s vulnerable areas is a simple addition to prevent water pooling around your property.

Professional help is never a bad option either. Check out how Cotswold Drainage can help with dealing with excess rain and flooding.

Clearing Drains of Ice and Debris

Sometimes, we can’t protect all areas of our house drainage system, and ice and other debris may form and cause issues for your drains. If this has become the case, fear not, we have the guidance you need to unblock them.

Regular maintenance, including the previously mentioned methods, as well as generally inspecting your drainage system frequently and removing any visible ice or debris from gutters, downspouts and drain grates is ideal. When dealing with the ice buildup, avoid chemical de-icers or rock salt, as these can harm your pipes and the environment. Instead, opt for alternatives such as calcium chloride or sand to melt the ice.

With light or heavy snowfall, it’s essential to clear snow away from your gutters and drains to prevent the formation of ice dams. Remove the snow from your roof and the ground areas by your drains to ensure that your drainpipes remain unobstructed. When carrying out these actions, we recommend taking several safety precautions to prevent accidents, such as wearing appropriate footwear with good traction, using handrails and putting down sand for added grip.

Preparing for Drainage System and Helping You Through the Winter with Cotswold Drainage

At Cotswold Drainage, we believe that the best way to keep your drainage system healthy and functional during winter is with effective, preventative measures. Without these preventative measures, your drainage system will be at an increased risk of damage, including burst pipes and blockages which can be a real pain.

Fortunately, if you are ever in need of professional help with complex drainage issues, Cotswold Drainage provides turnkey drain services to help. No matter the season, whether the blistering frostbite attacks the nation or the sun shines down with blazing ferocity, we are on call to help.

Don’t let Jack Frost have the last laugh.  Get in touch with us for all manner of drain system repairs, cleaning, CCTV surveys, drain lining or emergency assistance by calling us on 01386882324 or emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..