DIY How To

Dealing with burst, leaking pipes

Bursting pipes are classified as a water emergency, and you have to act fast if you're unfortunate enough to experience pipes bursting and leaking in your house. There are certain steps you need to take swiftly, as soon as you realise that the pipes have burst in your house.

Act fast to reduce damage

Pipes burst mainly during the winter: for a number of reasons. Rapid drops in temperature, constantly low settings on your thermostat and poor insulation can all lead to your pipes freezing and then bursting. If this happens to you, make sure you take the following steps, before you call the plumbers.

Turn off the water supply
This is your essential first step once you've realised the pipes have burst. Make sure you know where the stop cock is before the cold weather kicks in – you'll be glad you found out, if your pipes end up bursting. It's usually located under the kitchen sink, or wherever the water supply enters your property.
By turning off the water supply, you'll be preventing more water gushing out of the system, thereby reducing the amount of damage done.

Drain the system and turn off your electrics
After you've turned off the water supply, it is imperative that you drain your water system by turning on all of your cold taps and flushing your toilets. This will drain the excess water out. Leave all the taps on until your plumber arrives.
You also probably need to turn off your electricity. It's best to turn off all the areas instead of just the affected ones, to be safe. If the electricity points have gotten wet, it's best to just leave it.

Turn off your heating system
Next, turn off your heating system. If your heating system attempts to heat up without water in the system, it could damage your boiler. This will also involve draining the system of hot water.
If your heating system uses solid fuel, let this drain out too.

Check around for damaged areas
After you've got your water and heating systems on lockdown, it's time to check areas that have been damaged by water. In particularly bad cases, some ceilings may be bulging with water. Make sure everyone stays clear of these areas, as the ceiling may collapse.
If it is safe enough, try poking a hole in the bulging ceiling to let some water drain out into a bucket below.

Call the professionals
Now that you've done everything you can do, call your plumber immediately. If you have specific emergency house insurance, you might want to get in touch with your insurer too.

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