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What to do if you have a frozen or burst pipes

If you spot that one of your pipes might be frozen, turn off your inside stop tap immediately. It might be under the kitchen sink, in an airing cupboard or under floorboards near the front door.

How and when to thaw frozen pipes

It's best to thaw out pipes slowly, by using a hairdryer on its lowest setting, hot water bottles or towels soaked in warm water.  Do not use direct heat as this may cause permanent damage to the pipes and could also lead to a fire in the home.

Turn on nearby cold taps (keep the stop tap turned off) this will relieve pressure on the frozen pipe.

What to do if you have a burst pipe

Sometimes pipes freezing and thawing can cause them to burst. If this happens, turn off the mains water supply immediately by using the stopcock. This will stop any more water getting into the water pipes. If the burst pipe is on the main water system the rush of water will stop after a short while.

If the rush of water does not stop or there is still a constant run of water, the problem is probably on the cold water storage system. You will need to drain down the cold water storage tank which is usually located in the roof space.

Most importantly, if the worst happens, keep calm, do not panic and if you suspect you have frozen pipes contact your nearest WaterSafe plumber from the UK national accreditation scheme.

Tips to avoid problems in the future

  • Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check it’s working
  • If you are going away, leave your heating on and set the thermostat to 14 C
  • Make sure all roof and vulnerable pipes are insulated and your boiler is serviced
  • Make sure you have the name and telephone number of your nearest WaterSafe qualified plumber to hand. Keep it by the boiler or stop tap!
  • Get a neighbour to look in occasionally if you go away.

Find a plumber

If you need help to get your plumbing prepared for winter, or have a frozen or burst pipe, you can find a skilled plumber near you through the national accreditation scheme WaterSafe, which is backed by water companies in the UK and the Government’s water quality watchdog. Visit the WaterSafe website to find a plumber or winter advice or call 0333 207 9030.