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Burst and Frozen Pipes Can Be Avoided

14th December 2012

Photograph of Burst and Frozen Pipes Can Be Avoided

A burst pipe can cause serious damage to your home’s structure and electrical wiring. The following steps describe what you should do as soon as you discover a burst pipe:

Turn off the main water supply stop cock – you should find this under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters your home
Drain the system – turn on all your cold taps
Turn off water heating systems
Turn off the electrics
Call a professional to repair the water damage

Please also note:

If water has been leaking through for some time and the ceilings are bulging – be careful, rooms may not be safe to enter.

If you notice the leak quickly you can catch dripping water in buckets. Punch a hole in the ceiling to let water out of the bulge.

A frozen pipe is also an emergency because this may cause a rip or burst in the pipework. During milder conditions thawed water will escape from the break.

Should you discover a frozen pipe you should follow these steps:

Turn off the water supply
Protect everything around the pipe that appears to be frozen to avoid damage if it bursts
Open the tap nearest to the part of the pipe you think is frozen so water can flow through once it has melted
Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (taking care to keep it well away from the water), beginning from the tap end and working back toward the cold water tank.

Never use a heat gun or blow torch to thaw frozen pipes

If a burst pipe leaks and water comes through the ceiling, it can cause real damage to your home and its contents. Burst pipes and leaks may be expensive and complicated to fix.

You can avoid this damage by following these winter care tips:

Insulate your loft and the sides of your water tanks
Insulate all your pipes
Open the loft trap door for a short period on cold days to let heat in
If you’re away for a while, ask a friend or relative to check on your home to make sure pipes haven’t burst or frozen
Re-washer dripping taps because if they freeze they’ll block the pipe
Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check regularly that you can turn it off in an emergency
In very cold weather heating will need to be on low, or set to come on a couple of times a day

The Scottish Water website provides a range of very useful guidance of how to practically prepare you for severe weather events

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