With December upon us, and November having already brought a cold snap and low temperatures, it is important to be aware of the potential threat of a burst pipe – the risk of which dramatically increases in winter.

What causes a burst pipe?

The biggest cause of a burst pipe is low temperatures. This is because during cold and freezing conditions, water in exposed pipes will freeze and then expand, which leads to a build-up of high pressure that ruptures the pipe and can cause flooding. Flooding can also occur when frozen water thaws and leaks from the pipe or appliances like radiators and boilers.

Potential Damages

Of course the biggest threat of a burst pipe is damage from flooding, as the the build-up of water can be substantial and cause considerable damage to your home. This can include breakages to your personal belongings and staining your furniture or even lead to damp and mould growth, which can be detrimental to your personal health and wellbeing. Naturally all of this can be upsetting and cause a large amount of emotional distress, especially if your belongings and sentimental items are damaged or destroyed.


Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to stop this from happening:

  • Insulate your pipesInsulating your pipes will help prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting. If you find a frozen pipe that is at ground level, and is easily accessible, you could try to thaw it out. However, you need to be very careful with this, and if you are unsure, should always contact a professional.
  • Turn off your water at the mains – If you are leaving your home over winter, or have another property that is being left unattended, we recommend turning the water off at the main stopcock. These are normally located downstairs, by your gas meter or under your kitchen sink. Up to 9600 litres of water (that’s the equivalent of 48 bathtubs) can build-up in a single day, so turning off the water at the mains can significantly reduce the risk of a burst pipe. To learn more about your stopcock, including where it might be located, click here.
  • Leave the heating on – This might be a little of an expensive solution, but it is effective, and can be worth the money when compared to the cost of flood damages.
  • Drain your taps – There will still be a lot of water in pipes and tanks, so just turning off the water isn’t really enough. Therefore, if you are leaving your property unoccupied for an extended period over Christmas, draining down the heating system and shutting off your water supply is a good option to prevent burst pipes. If you are going to do this, we recommend getting advice from a heating engineer or plumber on how to do so safely.
  • Service your boiler – By getting your boiler serviced annually, you will help to avoid breakdowns during cold spells, meaning that your property stays warm and it isn’t cold enough for pipes to freeze.
  • Shut off outside water sources – External sources of water like garden taps can be a big cause of burst pipes as they are more exposed to the elements and cold temperatures.

 In the event of a burst pipe

If a pipe does burst in your home, the best thing to do is to act quickly and turn off the water supply and any electrical items, including your water heating system, in case of flooding.

Should the worst happen, and the cold weather and/or a burst pipe causes flooding in your home, we will be there to help with the aftermath and restoration.

For further information on our services visit our website: www.servicemasterrestore.co.uk or call 0845 762 6828 for emergency help in flooding and trauma damage