Originally Posted by iamskippy
why the downstairs tap?
By "downstairs tap" I believe the contributor was referring to the incoming tap from the mains (in the kitchen, normally). Leaving this running reduces the chances of the water from the mains freezing (because running water less likely to freeze as it passes through the cold spots on your domestic connection).
Leaving an upstairs tap would also draw water from the mains, but in batches only as the tank fills from the mains only when the level falls low enough to open the ballcock valve. The unsteady flow of water increases the chances of freezing, and the noise of the tank filling every few minutes may interrupt your sleep.
But running taps wastes a scarce resource, and we might all be left without water if everyone did this. Worse again if your drains freeze the running tap may flood your house quietly while you sleep.
Check your mains supply pipes for exposed sections. These are typically around the stopcock, or the pipes near your sink (inside or out). If you have exposed pipework outside then insulate them with a non-absorbent insulating material (like packing foam). If you have exposed pipework inside the house make sure the area doesn't get too cold.
Re opening the attic door.... this will stop the incoming pipe to your tank freezing but at the expense of making your house cold. Insulating the pipes is a better option. In the short term if you can't get insulation for this right now, the 100W light bulb, placed near to the pipes
, should be sufficient to avoid freezing temperatures
there, but don't let anything cover the bulb, and don't leave the bulb near anything which could melt or catch fire.
Remember it's the PIPES
which you are worried about, not the TANK
. It will be a cold month in hell before the tank can freeze. Also a frozen tank will recover without doing damage, but a frozen pipe is very likely to burst as the water expands below 4 degrees centigrade.
Stay warm and dry this winter,