Frozen and burst pipes

When temperatures fall below freezing your pipes are more likely to freeze and burst. Find out how to thaw frozen pipes and limit the damage to your home if a burst occurs.

Why do pipes freeze and burst?

If pipes in the cold areas of your home are not insulated, they can freeze when temperatures drop.

A burst pipe often occurs when the water inside freezes causing an increase in pressure, which leads to the pipe expanding and sometimes bursting.

This can then cause flooding inside your home, leaving you without heating or running water, as well as an expensive mess to clean up.

How to thaw frozen pipes

You might have a frozen pipe if no water or only a trickle comes out of your cold tap when it is turned on. Frost may also be visible on the outside of the affected pipe.

A frozen pipe can quickly become a burst pipe if action isn’t taken. Follow these steps to thaw a frozen pipe:

  • locate your stop tap, which can usually be found under the sink in the kitchen, and turn it off to prevent pressure from building up
  • partly turn on any affected taps to relieve the pressure and allow the water to escape once the pipe has thawed
  • thaw the frozen pipe using a hot water bottle and warm towels
  • if you’re sure the pipe doesn’t have a leak, then turn your water supply back on
  • if you think the pipe is leaking, call a qualified plumber before turning your water supply back on.

What to do if a pipe bursts

If you are experiencing water pressure or flow issues, a pipe may have burst in your home. You might also notice damp patches on your walls, ceilings or floor.

Here’s what you should do if a pipe in your home has burst:

  • locate your stop tap, which can usually be found under the sink in the kitchen, and turn it off to stop any more water from escaping
  • flush your toilets and turn on all your cold taps to drain the water that is left in your pipes
  • soak up and collect as much of the water as possible, while also moving any items or pieces of furniture out of harm’s way
  • if the water has reached your electrics, turn off your power at the mains and do not turn them back on until they have been checked by a qualified electrician
  • contact your home insurance company to find out if you’re covered for bursts and leaks
  • call a qualified plumber to come and repair the burst.