What to do if you have a frozen or burst pipe
Sometimes pipes freezing and thawing can cause them to burst. Find out what to do to get up and running again.
If you spot that one of your pipes might be frozen, turn off your inside stop tap immediately. It's usually located under the kitchen sink, but can also be found in downstairs bathrooms, kitchen cupboards, garages, cellars and under the stairs.
Open all your taps to drain the system as quickly as possible, saving some water in a bucket, if you can, for flushing toilets and hand washing. When the water stops running, turn all the taps off.
How to thaw frozen pipes
It's best to thaw out pipes slowly, with hot water bottles or towels soaked in hot water. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch to thaw the pipe – as direct heat may cause permanent damage to the pipes and could also lead to a fire in the home. If you need help, contact an approved plumber via watersafe.org.uk.
Turn on nearby cold taps (keep the stop tap turned off) as 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 water supply coming into your property at the stop tap and switch off your boiler.
- Open all your taps to drain the system as quickly as possible, saving some water in a bucket for flushing toilets and hand washing. When the water stops running, turn all the taps off.
- Soak up escaping water with towels to limit the damage.
- Call a WaterSafe approved plumber, who is qualified to work on the plumbing system in your home.
- If water has leaked near your electrics, do not touch them and switch them off at the fuse box.
Tips to avoid problems in the future
- Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check it’s working every six months.
- If you are going away, leave your heating on low.
- Ensure all pipes in your roof space or loft, as well as pipes in other areas that may be vulnerable to the cold, are insulated and your boiler is serviced.
- 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 check inside your home occasionally, if you go away.
Video of winter plumbing tips
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 qualified, approved plumber near you through the national accreditation scheme WaterSafe, which is backed by all water companies in the UK and the drinking water regulators. Visit the WaterSafe website or call 0333 207 9030.