Burst pipes are a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Not only can they cause substantial damage to both buildings and contents – costing thousands to repair and months upon months to dry out – but they are most likely to be caused at the worst time of the year, during the depths of a freezing winter.
When the minus temperatures hit, water within exposed and uninsulated pipework can freeze. As water expands when it turns into ice, this can damage pipework, causing it to split. If you are lucky, a split may be minor and only cause a little damage - maybe only noticeable in a drop in pressure to your boiler, or an unusually high water bill - but a major leak can be devastating and cause similar damage to a fire.
Burst pipes can be caused by other issues too. A stray nail or screw is often a culprit, especially when DIY season begins.
Whether your burst pipe is weather or accident related, there are a number of steps to take. The first is to try not to panic and keep a clear head while you:
- Prevent water passing the point of the leak by turning off the stop-valve on the incoming water supply main - often sited under the kitchen sink.
- If there isn’t an internal valve, turn off the water at the external valve - often found under a cover in your garden or path.
- If the escaping water cannot be controlled immediately, open all COLD water taps and flush the WC so that the pipework and storage system drains quickly.
- DO NOT TURN ON HOT TAPS.
- Turn off the central heating system and, if it uses a solid fuel boiler, allow the fire to die out. Switch off any electric immersion heater, then call a professional plumber.