The onset of winter and especially the arrival of freezing conditions inevitably create an increased risk of burst pipes. In particular, problems may arise if premises are left empty and unheated for any length of time during an exceptionally cold snap.
Water pipes burst in very cold winter conditions because water expands when it freezes. This can eventually lead to the pipe cracking and bursting.
If a water pipe bursts, this can cause a huge amount of damage to your property. Indeed, the potential water loss from a burst pipe can be as high as 400 litres. This is roughly equivalent to 2 full baths an hour. If your property is left unattended for some time, this can be a huge problem.
If you don’t want to return to a soggy home or workplace, taking action to prevent a burst pipe is key.
How to prevent burst pipes in winter
If you want to know how to protect water pipes from freezing, take a look at these tips.
- Insulate your pipes: External taps and pipes and those in unheated areas need to be insulated against the cold. This includes drainpipes for your heating, overflow pipes, and those in places such as the loft or garage. It’s easy to buy pipe protection called lagging to do this. When you fit it, make sure you also lag the joints, bends and taps as these can be particularly weak points.
- Keep your heating on: It can be tempting to switch off the heating if you’re going to leave your property unoccupied for a time, but this could lead to burst pipes. Keeping the heating on to maintain an internal temperature of 12-15°C will help to keep your property’s water system warm and frost-free.
- Fix any leaks: A pre-existing leak isn’t going to be improved by freezing weather. If you spot a leak, make sure you fix it as soon as possible.
- Know where your stop tap is: If the worst happens and you get a burst pipe, you’ll need to get to your stop tap (also known as a stopcock). By turning it off, you can stop your supply of mains water entering your house. It’s also a good idea to check if it actually works.
Stop taps can usually be found under the kitchen sink, but they may be in a downstairs bathroom, under the stairs, or in the garage or cellar.
- Drain the system: If you’re going to leave a property unoccupied for a very long time, it’s a good idea to turn off your mains supply at your internal stop tap and drain all the water from the system.
You can do this by turning off your mains supply at the stop tap and then turning on all the taps in your property. Once there is no more water running, you can turn off all of the taps. If you’re unsure about doing this, a professional can do it for you.
What to do when water pipes burst
If a pipe does burst, turn off your mains water supply at the stop tap immediately.
You will then need to remove all water in your property’s system by turning on all the taps in the bathroom and kitchen. Turn them off once all the water has gone.
If water has leaked near your electrics, turn off your electricity supply at your fuse box.
You’ll then need to call a plumber to come and fix the problem.
Talk to us about your Home Insurance
Contact Carly Nineham today to ensure you have the best possible cover in the event of any burst pipes. You can call her on 01223 792265.
This article is intended for general guidance only.
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