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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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It's another freezing morning - here's what you can do to keep your pipes clear and your car running

Temperatures today are only set to reach as high as 5 degrees with a sharp frost present on many roads.

Image: Shutterstock/Skowronek

PEOPLE AROUND THE country are waking up to icy roads and freezing conditions in many areas this morning as the cold snap continues. 

It may be the 1st of February but that doesn’t mean the weather is going to get any warmer, with lows of 0 to -6 degrees last night and things set to remain that way over the weekend. 

Temperatures today are only set to reach as high as 5 degrees with a sharp frost present on many roads. 

Apart from just being plain uncomfortable, prolonged cold weather brings with it a host of problems and dangers. 

From freezing pipes, the icy roads to trying to get you car started in the morning – here are some of the best ways to minimise problems as the country weathers the cold conditions.

Heating and pipes 

Don’t leave the taps running!

One of the primary concerns facing homeowners or renters during prolonged snaps is pipes potentially freezing. 

This could impact water supply or heating – neither of which you want to be without when temperatures are dipping below freezing. 

During The Beast from the East last year, Richard Burke of the Heating and Plumbing Association of Ireland talked to TheJournal.ie about what people should do (and not do) to keep water moving through their homes. 

Burke cast aside the myth that leaving a water tap running can prevent the pipe freezing and bursting. 

“I wouldn’t recommend it because it could have a knock-on effect with freezing. It’s a myth to leave the tap running, it can cause problems elsewhere,” Burke said.

He said that if the water is left running continuously it risks freezing the drain as it’s leaving the sink.

As for the water mains, Burke said that there is nothing householders can do to prevent the water that is entering the house from freezing the pipes.

If the water mains pipes underground aren’t deep enough below the surface, they can easily freeze above ground, Burke warned at the time.

So what can you do? 

Burke also gave a list of practical measures people can take to lessen the risk of pies freezing. These include:

  • Leave the heating running longer on a lower heat 
  • If you have an attic with tanks, leave the trap door open to allow heat in 

Meanwhile, Irish Water also has advice on its website for winter proofing your home.

Practical advice includes telling people to have a separate supply of fresh drinking water available on your premises in case a water pipe freezes or bursts due to the freezing weather. Any dripping water taps should also be fixed.

Cars and roads

Battery problems

Outside of the home, one of the main practical problems facing people is how to clear away ice and get their car started in the morning – and how to stay safe on the roads once they do so. 

AA Ireland said that in recent days it has seen a significant increase in the number of call outs to assist motorists. The bulk of these have been to do with battery issues, the service said. 

AA said that weaker batteries can often struggle to start in cold weather even after a brief period of the car going unused. 

“Ahead of this weekend, we would advise people who are planning to park the car on Friday after work and not go near it until Monday morning to be aware of the risks of battery faults during cold weather,” said AA’s Conor Faughnan. 

He said that for anyone not planning on using their car over the weekend should think about turning it on and leaving it run for 10 to 15 minutes on Sunday. 

Before you set out 

Providing the battery is okay, these practical tips should be followed by anyone planning to drive in the cold conditions.

  • Clear windows and mirrors before you set out, use a screen scraper and de-icer
  • Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass
  • If it’s snowing in your area be sure to remove all snow from your vehicle – snow left on the roof will become loose and can drop onto the windscreen during braking

Driving

It’s also important to be extra cautious while driving on icy conditions and in places of poor visibility. 

  • In snow and icy conditions slow down, use all controls delicately and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front
  • Avoid over-steering, harsh braking and harsh acceleration
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin
  • Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists and allow extra space 

Also, if you happen to break down while on the road, Dublin Fire Brigade has some practical tips on what you should have with you:

Cold weather with icy conditions is set to last over the course of the weekend, with some milder temperatures expected early next week.

Until then – stay warm and stay safe!

With reporting from Daragh Brophy and Hayley Halpin  

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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