Domestic Disaster: What To Do When Pipes Burst!!
Didn’t we have it all this winter! With the Beast from the East and Storm Emma and who knows what else, it’s been a bit of a miserable time weather-wise.
But for some of us that misery was made even worse by weather-related problems in our homes. Some homes were flooded, others had no water at all. Another very common problem was burst pipes. But what exactly are burst pipes? What should you do if you have them and is there anything you can do to prevent them? In today’s article we look at each of these questions in more detail.
What are burst pipes and what causes them?
Burst pipes are a major domestic disaster! They usually occur when a pipe in your plumbing system is put under too much pressure and the pipe breaks, causing water to start flowing out. The worst thing is that if a pipe bursts in your ceiling or floor it may not be noticed straight away, so the water damage will build up without you realising. The potential water loss from burst pipes in your house can be as much as 400 litres per hour – the equivalent of 2 full baths.
The two main causes of burst pipes are frozen temperatures and unprotected piping. If piping in your home gets too cold it can freeze and as the water becomes ice it expands. This expansion puts pressure on the pipe from the inside and eventually something has to give.
What to do if you have burst pipes
- First of all turn off the water supply at the stopcock. It is a good idea to know where the stopcock is in advance of any such emergency. Many of us have no idea. So why not find out now? You may be glad that you did.
- Turn on all taps to reduce flooding (remember to turn these off again once the pipes are repaired)
- Soak up escaping water with thick towels.
- Call for help. If the problem is inside your property call an emergency plumber. The website Watersafe provides information about plumbers in your area. If it is outside your property call your water supplier.
How to prevent burst pipes
- Insulate water tanks and pipes. You can buy lagging material from most DIY stores. Pay particular attention to water tanks and pipes in unheated areas such as loft spaces and garages. If possible try to open up these areas from time to time to allow warm air to circulate.
- Make sure you fix dripping taps – even a small trickle can result in a frozen pipe.
- Ensure that your boiler is serviced regularly and is in good working order.
- Try to keep a decent minimum temperature in your property by leaving the heating on low and minimising draughts.
- If a property is going to be empty for a long period of time, turn off the water at the stopcock and also drain down the system so there is no water remaining in the pipes.
- If in spite of doing the above a pipe does freeze then turn off the water supply at the stopcock and slowly thaw the pipe with either a hairdryer, hot water bottle or a towel soaked in hot water, starting at the end nearest the tap.
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Previous ‘Domestic Disasters’ hints and tips:
- Dealing with a power cut
- Managing a water leak
- What to do with a broken window
- Boiler breakdown advice
- Dealing with a burglary
- Dealing with a broken fridge
- Getting locked out