Burst pipes , winter’s ticking time bomb!

Burst pipes are one of the most common complaints in the winter months, both in domestic and commercial properties.

The effects of a burst pipe can be devastating and extensive. Ruptured pipes can damage your property, put you out of your home and, at its worst, shut down roads or even whole towns for days. Insurance costs alone can range between a few thousand to millions. While the cost of the repair may vary it is the cost of any damage caused, both financial and sentimental.

The most likely cause of burst pipes is freezing temperatures and pipework that is unprotected from the cold temperatures. The pipes burst because when the water within them freezes and therefore expands. The pressure caused by the expansion of water as it becomes ice puts pressure on the pipe from the inside. The soft copper or plastic pipes cannot withstand the pressure and so they break. Unfortunately, due to the majority of your pipe work being hidden beneath flooring, behind walls or in your roof, the damage may be unseen until it is too late.

So what can you do to prevent damage this Christmas season?

  1. Know where your stop cock is!
  2. Make sure any outside tapes, including drain pipes for heating and over flow pipes, are insulated. Find out how to insulate your pipes here.
  3. Insulate pipes that are installed in areas without heating e.g. sheds, garages
  4. Ensure your water tank is insulated
  5. Make sure your heating is set on at least 12 degrees centigrade at all times during cold periods. That includes when you are absent from the building.
  6. Try to source and fix any dripping taps or leaks prior to the colds spell.
  7. When temperatures drop significantly below normal, leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air into the loft space. This will reduce the risk of a pipe bursting up there.
  8. When going on holiday, drain your water system and close the taps again (don’t forget this part) and leave your heating on. This will help you drain your water system.

As hard as it is to hear sometimes burst pipes just happen even when you have the best plan for prevention so the sooner you can deal with them the better.