Thousands call United Utilities with frozen plumbing during the cold snap.

Around 1,500 householders across the North West have woken up this morning to no water, after finding that their internal plumbing had frozen overnight.

The region’s water company United Utilities has been taking thousands of extra calls from worried customers since the cold snap took hold earlier this week.

And after temperatures plunged as low as minus 11 degrees Celsius in parts of the region last night, the water company says this morning has been the busiest day yet in its call centres, with four times more calls than usual.

Phil Sweeney, Central Operations Director at United Utilities, said: “The problem often happens at the point where the pipe that supplies an individual property comes out of the ground and enters the house. This is usually near the stop tap, often under the kitchen sink.

“If this pipe freezes, the water cannot flow into the house. Unfortunately this is not something United Utilities can fix, all we can do is offer advice.  The good news is there are some simple steps householders can take to gently defrost the pipe and get the water moving again.”

  • Turn off your stop tap, usually found under your kitchen sink.

  • Turn on your cold tap in the kitchen.

  • Use a warm towel or hot water bottle to gently warm the pipe each side of the stop tap. Depending on how frozen your pipes are, this could take several hours.

  • Turn your stop tap back on to see if the water is running from the kitchen tap and check carefully for any leaks from the pipework, as the pipe might have burst.

  • In the case of a burst pipe you’ll need to turn off the stop tap again and call a plumber.

If this doesn’t work, and you still have no water, there could be a problem with the water supply network in the street outside.  In which case customers should visit  to see if we are dealing with any issues in your area or give us a call on 03456 723 723.

Phil Sweeney added: “When the weather turns as cold as it has done this week, it’s a stark reminder that it’s important to be prepared. There’s lots of good advice on our website on how to protect your household plumbing and your home this winter.”

  • Prepare - know where your stop tap is and check it works, it’s usually under the kitchen sink but can also be in garages or cellars. Have a number of a plumber at hand or check if a water pipe leak or burst is covered on your home or business insurance.

  • Insulate - insulate pipes in cold places like outside and in the garage and loft.  Insulating hot water pipes will also prevent heat from escaping and help save money on your energy bills.

  • Protect - any other exposed equipment, such as outside taps with an insulated cover.

  • Easy - do it because it's easy and could save you hundreds of pounds in damage from flooding.

Visit for more useful information on how to protect your home this winter.

As the temperature drops, United Utilities is also reminding customers about its Priority Services scheme.

It aims to provide additional support for those who might be elderly, be in ill health, have a disability or mental health problems and those customers who may have financial worries or language barriers. 

If you would like to register for Priority Services, or if you have a family member, friend or neighbour who might benefit, more information can be found on the company’s website at:, which includes a secure online form to register. Alternatively, call their Priority Services team direct on 0345 672 2888.


Notes to editors

For further information please contact the United Utilities press office at or call 0345 072 0822.

About United Utilities

United Utilities provides water and wastewater services for 7 million people in North West England. Between 2020 and 2025 it will invest £5.9bn running and upgrading services to customers, with more than 5,000 employees and another 17,500 jobs supported through its supply chain.

United Utilities’ headquarters are in Warrington. Its shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and the FTSE 100 Index.


Sign up for alerts

To receive news and information about risks in your area, how to prepare and how to respond.

Once you have submitted your details below you will be taken through to Neighbourhood Alert to complete your registration for Stay In The Know

Latest news

About Us 2021 05 Jesip Multi Agency 004

No Moor Fires - Public Spaces Protection Order introduced in Lancashire

Chorley, Blackburn with Darwen and Greater Manchester join together to protect moorland from fires.

Read more

Job alert: Senior Emergency Planning Advisor at United Utilities

A vacancy for a Senior Emergency Planning Officer has opened at UU.

Read more
Acc Peter Lawson White Shirt Pp

Death of ACC, and Executive Chair of the LRF, Pete Lawson

Read more

Get in touch

If you have any comments, questions or are experiencing any issues with the website, please get in touch by completing the form.

The mailbox isn't monitored 24/7, so please do not use this for emergencies.

For information on how this website handles your personal information please read our Privacy Policy.