Dealing with a Burst Water Pipe

A burst water pipe can cause a lot of damage within your home. Although a pipe may have simply worn out, the most common cause for a burst water pipe is when a pipe has become frozen in cold weather and therefore you should always take steps to ensure that you try to prevent water from freezing in the first place. For example, if you go on holiday over the winter months, you should still set your central heating system to come on for 15 minutes or so both morning and night to keep the flow of warm water ticking over. Some professionals might even recommend that you drain the cold water system altogether if you’re going to be away on holiday during a cold spell. However, should you experience a burst water pipe, you should adopt the following procedure.

Shut Off The Water Supply

The first thing you must do if you experience a burst water pipe is to turn off the main stopcock which you’d usually find under the sink in your kitchen although it can be situated elsewhere. It will often resemble a brass valve with a circular handle. This will prevent the flow of any further cold water from coming into your house.

Identifying The Source Of The Burst

Once you’ve turned off the stopcock, if the rush of water doesn’t stop or there is still a constant flow of water, the problem is not in the main water system but is likely to be somewhere within the cold water storage system itself. This will often be located in a tank inside your loft or attic. If you suspect that this is the problem, then you need to empty the tank by turning on all the cold water taps in the house and flush the toilet several times. Before you drain any hot water, make sure your boiler and any immersion heater is switched off first then turn off the cold feed pipe to the cylinder and run all of the hot water taps to get rid of the water in the pipes. It’s important any boiler or immersion is switched off as in addition to preventing even further damage, it lessens the risk of an explosion occurring.

Other Concerns

Apart from the cosmetic and potential structural damage, (depending on how quickly you’ve been able to detect the burst from the point when it occurred), the main danger is the water coming into contact with electricity. So, whilst you’re bound to be concerned and startled by a burst water pipe, it’s important you don’t compromise any safety issues and take the proper precautions to avoid an electric shock from being near or standing in water close to an electrical source. If the water starts coming through the ceiling, collect it in a bucket until it stops but, should the ceiling start to bulge, you’ll have no option but to pierce it with something like a broom handle to let the water flow through. If you know that electrical sockets and/or electrical equipment has been affected by water, do not under any circumstances attempt to use them until you have been given the all-clear by a professional electrician.

Call The Plumber

Unless you’re a highly adept DIY enthusiast, burst pipes are best left to a plumber to fix or replace. Water damage can result in thousands of pounds worth of repairs and replacement goods so fixing or replacing a pipe is best left to the professionals.

Make A Checklist For The Insurance Company

Whilst you’re waiting for the plumber to arrive, you may want to start making a checklist of any items which have been damaged beyond repair which you can present to your insurance company. And, if you have a camera, it’s useful to support your insurance claim by being able to provide photographs in support of your list. However, an insurance company representative will want to visit you anyway soon afterwards so that they can assess the damage for themselves.