Northern Ireland Water Winter Advice

24 October 2011

How important is your water supply to your business?

Our water supply is something we don’t really pay attention to….until something goes wrong.  With many businesses feeling the squeeze on their cash flow, investing in something that is working perfectly well won’t be high on the list of priorities.  However, as many companies experienced last year, the devastation caused by burst water pipes or no water at all can lose a business essential weeks or even months of trading.   

One of the key lessons NI Water has taken from the freeze/thaw incident of December and January is the need to provide greater information and guidance to our customers to assist them with their preparations for the winter.  We also need to make it easier for customers to understand the pipework they are responsible for and the tasks they need to complete to protect their properties.  

How should a business prepare?  

  • Ensure pipes are well insulated.
  • Locate your stop valve and make sure all your staff know where it is and how to turn it off.
  • If your business is beside an empty premises have an emergency contact number of the estate agent or owner in the event of a burst pipe leaking into your premises. 
  • Consider what you would do if you did lose your water supply for a prolonged period of time.  You need to have a contingency plan, for example some businesses have a storage tank which will provide water for a certain period of time.  
  • If you have a meter, know where it is and check it regularly.  A higher than normal meter reading can be the first indicator that there may be a leak on your property. 
  • If you are closing down your business for a holiday period, you need to make plans in the event of cold weather i.e. set your heating timer, have someone check the premises regularly. 
  • Have the number of a plumber who knows where your premises is and is prepared to attend at night if needed. 
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover your property in the event of a burst pipe.

Entering a property and discovering a burst water pipe can be a shocking experience. A burst pipe can create a huge amount of damage in a very short period of time.  It is easy to panic, but if you have a plan in place, you can turn off your water and minimise the damage.  

What to do if you have a burst pipe:

  • Turn off your stop valve (turn it clockwise)
  • Phone your plumber 
  • Phone your insurance company

A burst pipe can have more implications than the immediate water damage caused.  A business can close for weeks while the damage is repaired, losing vital income.  Your water bill is also likely to be higher.  

However, it is also important to remember that large leaks that go undetected can also have a major impact on the water supply system.  Over 80% of the water lost during last year’s severe winter was from leaks on private property.  One business alone lost enough water to serve 28,000 customers for 7 days.  

NI Water has over 82,000 non-domestic customers, many of whom are business owners.    

We want you to take these simple steps to prevent a major headache later.

Further details can be found at or Youtube channel