Learn how to deal with burst pipes and minimise damage
AS temperatures plummet, burst pipes are an increasing problem but there are steps you can take to safeguard against water damage.
The best thing to do to avoid freezing pipes is to keep your heating on, run cold taps regularly and drain your outside tap if possible.
You do this by switching the inside tap off and running the outside tap until drained.
Inside, make sure exposed pipes are properly insulated, particularly in the roof space or attic.
Matthew Harding, managing director of Autostopcock, has the following advice if the worst happens inside the house:
As soon as you are aware of a burst pipe within your home you should class this as an emergency and shut off the mains water within your property. This is done by turning off the stopcock. Make sure that everyone who lives or stays in the property knows where this is situated and ensure they know how to turn it off.
After the main stopcock has been shut off and the mains water is prevented from flooding in, let the pipes drain by turning on all of the cold taps within the property. You can also switch off your heating system and then turn on all the hot taps, this will also aid draining the water supply system. For the same reason, flush all of the toilets. Once this has been carried out all leaks should stop.
Turn off the main electrical supply immediately and of course do not touch anything electrical if it’s wet.
Find the problem area: You must then immediately find the burst pipe within the property to prevent any further damage and do your best to fix it. For example, if it’s a tiny little nick within or on the pipe, sealing it will more than likely prevent any further problems for a while. However, you must also take into consideration which pipe has actually burst because if the damage is in a main water pipe it will need to be tended to and repaired very carefully regardless of the size of the break.
Check out the damage: If the leak does subside quickly look for danger signs. If ceilings are bulging it means they are holding a considerable amount of water and may collapse at any minute. So move furniture and belongings to another area of the house. If you manage to spot the leak fairly quickly then you can simply place a bucket underneath to catch the excess water.
Call the professionals: Call a plumber to fix and check the pipes. If you have flooding or water damage within your home then you may need to call a professional water damage restoration company to remove the water from your home and subsequently have it dried out properly. If you don’t then there could be problems with mould.
Call your insurance company: When a pipe bursts within your property you need to call your insurance company as soon as possible so you can submit a claim. Your insurance company or representative should then let you know of the steps you should take for your policy. An assessor will usually visit your house to ascertain the damage and the cost to put it right. It is very important you keep a record of the damage, however big or small. Take some photos or some video footage so that you have this data to show to your insurance company.
Prevention is better than cure: Insulate your pipes where possible and act immediately when you suspect a leak. You can also use gadgets like the Autostopcock, which helps to prevent leaks and shuts off the water supply in the event of adverse water flow and freezing.
Matthew adds: “Over £2bn of damage is caused each year due to escape of water and burst pipes or failed fittings can happen at any time.”
Yorkshire Water also has an advice section on its website, www.yorkshirewater.com. For details of registered plumbers contact the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineers, www. ciphe.org.uk,tel: 01708 472791.