Beat the Freeze’ and protect your pipes

UFU Policy Director Wesley Aston and Clare Lewsley of NI Water discuss measure farmers can take to protect their pipes this winter.
UFU Policy Director Wesley Aston and Clare Lewsley of NI Water discuss measure farmers can take to protect their pipes this winter.

The Ulster Farmers’ union along with Northern Ireland Water are urging farmers to beat the freeze this winter by protecting their pipes.

The effects of dealing with the aftermath of a burst pipe on a farm cannot be underestimated which is why the union is encouraging farmers to take the necessary steps with the aim of minimising water difficulties this winter.

There are a number of steps that farmers can do now to try and minimise the impact of potential water problems this winter. They include:

Ensure that you have good understanding of the layout of pipework within your land and keep a map of the line of this pipework;

Know where your stop valves are located; why not put one of NI Water’s new stop valve tags on them, you can request these by phoning Waterline 08457 440088.

Ideally, install a number of stop valves to isolate water supply to disused areas of the farm during the winter months;

Ensure that you have a supply of the relevant fittings to repair any leakages;

Know where your meters are located (NI Water will help you to do this if asked) and check them on a regular basis. A higher reading may indicate a leak which should be located and repaired as quickly as possible to reduce water bills, which are a major liability for a working farm;

Inspect remote troughs which may not be used at this time of year, particularly the exposed pipe leading into the trough; if cattle are inside consider turning the supply to the trough off at the meter or installing a stop valve for the trough (or field) so you turn off the supply without having to do so at the meter. Consider draining troughs;

Where practical ensure all underground pipes are buried 750 millimetres (2½ feet) below ground level.

Ensure any pipes within buildings are insulated, where appropriate, taking account 
of the presence of any livestock;

Fix dripping taps – a gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe;

Examine the adequacy of storage in the event of a supply problem. NI Water recommends at least 24 hours storage;

Write down the name and contact details of a SNIPEF (Scotland & Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation) registered plumber in case a pipe does burst.

The UFU would like to encourage members to call into their local UFU group office and pick up their stop valve tags and thermometers.

These have proven very useful in the past and will help farmers in the future when looking for particular stop valves again.