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Burst and frozen pipes

Frozen pipe leaking

No-one wants a burst pipe. As emergencies go, they can be a real nuisance so it’s a good idea to put some thought into what you would do if you had a burst pipe in your home.

Burst or leaking pipes

If your pipes burst, try to minimise any damage by:

1. Turn off the water supply

Turn off the main stop tap – this could be the external stop tap located at your property boundary and/or the internal stop tap which should be in the cupboard under the kitchen sink or at the point where the service pipe comes into your home.

Drain the cold water system by turning on all your cold taps. 

Keep an eye on your ceilings. If water has been leaking for a while, there may be some damaged plaster waiting to fall. Make a hole in the ceiling to let water out if it starts to bulge.

2. Turn off water heating systems

Switch off your central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating systems. If the central heating uses solid fuel, let this die out. Once your water heating has shut down, turn on the hot taps to help drain the system.

3. Turn off the electrics

Don't touch any wet electrical fittings – lights, sockets or appliances. Switch off the electricity supply straight away and call an electrician.

4. Call a professional to repair the damage

Take a look at WaterSafe, the dedicated online search facility set up to help you to find qualified plumbing and heating professionals.

Do you currently have insurance cover? 

Check your policies as you may be covered for emergencies. If you don't, find out more about the policies available through HomeServe to help protect your home's plumbing and drainage.

Thermometer illustration

Frozen pipes 

Be gentle with a frozen pipes to prevent them becoming burst pipes. When water freezes it expands and can cause the pipe to burst (especially if the pipes aren't protected), so you might not realise that the pipe has burst until the ice inside it melts.

If you have no water and think this is due to a frozen pipe, check to see if there are any signs of the pipe splitting or other damage and if you find anything, call a plumber. Take a look at WaterSafe to find an approved plumber working in your area.

1. Turn off the water supply

Turn off the main stop tap – it should be in the cupboard under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe comes into your home. A frozen pipe will stop you being able to drain your cold water system but you can turn off the stopcock in your cold water tank, if you have one. You’ll usually find the tank in your loft or attic.

2. Be prepared

While the pipe is still frozen you have time to protect everything around it from water damage in case the pipe leaks when it is thawed out.

3. Thawing out

Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so the water can flow out when the ice has melted. Thaw the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep the dryer 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.


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