Prep your pipes for winter

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As we head into winter, UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson is encouraging farmers to think about protecting the pipes on their farms.

“Temperatures are starting to drop and long range forecasters are predicting that we are in for a very cold winter this year. Farmers are encouraged to protect their farms by protecting their pipes,” said Mr Ferguson.

There are a number of ways farmers can prevent problems from occurring or minimising their impact if they happen including:

- 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; use the brightly coloured tags to mark stop valves in the fields or in sheds.

- 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.