How to protect your home against burst pipes as the temperatures drop and what to do if you get a flood

Whether at home or work an escape of water can be extremely disruptive and costly.  At LFI we investigate countless escapes of water from burst pipes due to freezing temperatures and have seen first hand the damage that can be caused, particularly if the water escape goes undiscovered for any period of time. Prevention is the best policy.  Here are some tips for protecting your home against the risk of floods from burst pipes:

  • Insulate water tanks, particularly if they are in lofts.  This can be done relatively cheaply, particularly in comparison to the costs the damage of a burst pipe can reach.

  • If pipes are exposed in unheated areas such as loft spaces then it is worthwhile insulating these also. 

  • Fix dripping taps – don’t leave them; even a small trickle can end up in a frozen pipe.

  • Find your property’s stopcock or valve and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. In the event of a burst pipe this could help to minimise the damage if you can quickly access and turn it off. Most stopcocks are fitted under the kitchen sink and closed by turning clockwise.

  • If you are going on holiday or away from the property for any long periods, then turn off the water stopcock.

  • Service your boiler regularly.

  •  Leave the heating on low or on a regular timer setting when you are away and get a friend or neighbour to check the property regularly.

 If you notice a frozen pipe:

  • Turn off the water supply at the stopcock.

  • Check to see if you can identify any bursts in the pipe.

  • Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles or a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest to the tap.

  • You can also use a hair-dryer on a low setting.

 If you do have a water escape from a burst pipe:

  •  Turn off the water supply at the stopcock.

  • Open all taps to reduce flooding.

  • Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels and move any furniture from away the water, if possible.

  • Call a qualified plumber.

  • Notify your insurance company.

  • Take photographs of the damage – this will help support your insurance claim and assist the investigation of a forensic engineer (if appointed).   

  • Retain any evidence. In the clean-up avoid the impulse to dispose of the damaged pipes or fittings.  These are key in determining what the actual cause of the escape of water was.

  • Turn off taps once pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding. 

A frozen burst pipe showing a longitudinal split that is a characteristic of this type of damage

A frozen burst pipe showing a longitudinal split that is a characteristic of this type of damage