How can I prevent burst pipes?
Make sure all pipework and water tanks are adequately lagged. In the freezing weather the number of burst pipes can increase significantly.
Avoiding frozen pipes
- Ensure water tanks are properly insulated. Do not insulate beneath water tanks in the loft as this will prevent warm air getting to them and could cause freezing.
- Fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe.
- Find your property’s internal stop tap and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. Inside stop taps are usually located under the kitchen sink, or perhaps in a downstairs toilet or cupboard. Check you know where yours is located and the tap is operating correctly. If you cannot turn the tap you may have to call a plumber for assistance.
- Have your boiler serviced.
- Minimise draughts and close doors and windows in unheated parts of the property.
- Leave the heating on low when you are away and get a friend or neighbour to check the property regularly.
- If a property is going to be unoccupied for long periods, turn off the water at the stop tap and consider draining down the system so there is no water left in the pipes.
- Keep bottles of drinking water for emergencies.
What to do if a pipe freezes
- If you have no water, first check with neighbours – if they have water then you may have a frozen pipe.
- Check pipes for signs of splitting – any damage will mean the burst pipe will leak when the pipe thaws out.
- Turn off the internal stop tap and drain the system by running cold taps and flushing toilets. Do not run hot taps as this may cause further problems if the hot water system is frozen.
- Switch off the central heating and water heating appliances such as boilers and immersion heaters.
- If the pipes all appear to be undamaged, turn off taps.
- Starting at the end nearest the tap, SLOWLY thaw the pipe using hot water bottles or towels soaked in hot water. DO NOT USE a direct flame, hairdryer or blowtorch.
- There is a risk of explosion if sudden heat is applied following a freeze. Only switch appliances back on when you’re sure the system is thawed.
- Once the system has thawed slowly turn the stop tap on. Check pipes again, and if you’re happy they are not damaged or leaking, switch on the boiler or immersion heater.
What to do if a pipe bursts
- Turn off the stop tap and boiler.
- Use thick towels to soak up escaping water or put a bucket beneath the burst.
- Switch off any electrical items at the mains. Remove plugs from sockets where water may have got into them.
- Turn on taps and flush toilets to drain the system.
- Once drained turn the taps off.
- Call a qualified plumber. It’s a good idea to keep a number for one handy.
If you’re in any doubt about what to do, call a plumber. To find a plumber go to: www.watersafe.org.uk or call 0333 207 9030.