Advice on Burst & Freezing Pipes

Burst and frozen water pipes can cause untold damage to your home and its contents. 

As burst pipes and leaks can be complicated to fix, repair work is likely to be expensive as it may also involve digging up your lawn, tarmac or paving.

The following information may help in avoiding this kind of damage by preventing burst pipes and leaks in the first place.

Tips on Preventing Burst Pipes

  • If severe frost is forecast, or it is currently below freezing you should leave your heating on day and night at your usual temperature setting. This will help to stop your pipes freezing. Note – Most modern boilers have a frost protection thermostat, which turns on automatically if the temperature drops to a level that will cause your pipes to freeze.
  • Insulate your loft and the sides of your water tanks.
  • Insulate all your pipes.
  • Open the loft trap door on cold days to let heat in.
  • If you’re away for a while, ask a friend or relative to check on your home and make sure pipes haven’t burst or frozen.
  • Re-washer dripping taps because if they freeze they’ll block the pipe. This will also save up to a litre of water a day.
  • Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check regularly that you can turn it off easily in an emergency. It’s handy to label it so you remember where it is in a panic.
  • In very cold weather the heating will need to be on low, or set to come on a couple of times a day, especially if you’re going away.

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What to do if you have a Frozen Pipe

A frozen pipe is an emergency because this will cause it to burst causing thawed water to come pouring from the break.

The following steps describe what you should do as soon as you discover a frozen pipe:

  • Turn off the water supply:
  • Turn off the main stop tap. You should find this under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters your home.
  • Turn off the stopcock in your cold water tank if you have one, it’s usually found in the attic or loft.
  • Protect everything around the pipe that appears to be frozen to avoid damage if it bursts.
  • Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so the water can flow through when it has melted.
  • Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep it well away from any water), beginning from the tap end and working back toward the cold water tank. Never use a heat gun or blow torch.
  • Contact ourselves or your Insurance Companies Emergency Helpline to advise you on contacting a professional plumber to make repairs.

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What to do if you have a Burst Pipe

  • Turn off the water at the main stop valve.
  • If your wiring or any electrical appliances have been affected, do not touch them until they have been checked by a professional electrician. If in doubt, turn off your electricity at the mains.
  • If the flow of water cannot be stopped, open all the cold taps to drain the system.
  • If the burst is on a pipe from the storage tank turn off the stop valve in the storage tank.
  • Switch off the central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating systems.
  • If the central heating uses solid fuel, let this die out.
  • Once water heating has shut down, turn on the hot taps to help drain the system.
  • If water has been leaking through for some time and the ceilings are bulging – be careful, rooms may not be safe to enter.
  • Contact ourselves or your Insurance Companies Emergency Helpline to advise you on contacting a professional plumber to make repairs.

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