A burst pipe is without doubt one of the worst plumbing emergencies. They can cost thousands of pounds worth of damage, plus sky-high water bills. It’s not just fixing the pipe that’s costly. It’s also fixing the damage all that gushing water has wreaked on your home.
We’ve written this blog to show you what you need to do when you come across a burst pipe in your property.
Pipe burst? Call Sani Solutions for a 24/7 emergency plumber in Bournemouth and Southampton. Contact us on 03300 882 552 now.
Causes of Burst Pipes
A burst pipe can be caused by several factors. Damage to the pipe, or wear and tear over time can both lead to pipes bursting.
The most common cause, however, is cold temperatures.
When the temperature outside drops, your pipes are at risk of freezing over. When this happens, the water inside freezes, too. And when water freezes, it expands (by around 9% in volume). This not only puts enormous strain on the pipe, but it also causes a surge in water pressure. The pipe simply can’t cope and will burst.
Weak spots in your piping are especially vulnerable to cracking when frozen.
Signs of a Burst Pipe
It’s not always clear immediately when you’ve got a burst pipe. In fact, water could build up for some time before you notice. If you suspect you may have a burst pipe, these are the signs to look out for:
- Gushing water (obviously)
- Damp patches on the walls, ceilings or floors
- Loss of water pressure
If your pipe has burst, you can expect to lose up to 400 litres of water per hour. That’s the equivalent of two baths full of water, gushing through your home each hour. Imagine that over eight hours while you’re at work, 24 hours while you’re away for the night, or even longer.
Below are the steps you should take to reduce potential water damage as a result of a burst pipe, as well as advice on preventing future issues.
What to Do if You Have a Burst Pipe
The first and most important step when a pipe bursts is to find and turn off your water valve or stopcock. Knowing where your stopcock is is vital if you want to minimise damage from leaks or burst pipes.
We’d also advise regularly checking your stopcock and turning it off and on to ensure it doesn’t get stiff. And, if you’re going away, consider turning off your water supply while you’re gone.
If your electrical sockets or appliances have been affected by the water, turn off your main electrical supply and avoid using any appliances.
The sooner you call an emergency plumber to come and address the problem, the better. Look for one that is available 24/7 and comes recommended (check their reviews).
You might need to call an electrician too, if your electrics have been affected.
You should also turn on your cold taps and drain the cold water through your system. Flush your toilet a few times too. This will relieve pressure in the pipes.
Check your insurance policy. Your insurer may cover you for emergency call outs and be able to offer support. They should also cover you for any water damage, depending on the policy. Make sure you document any damage with photos, as well as receipts for any plumbing or electrical work, to show to your insurer.
Once documented, you can start mopping up the excess water where possible, to prevent mould or mildew growing. Move valuable items to a safe spot, to protect them from damage.
Finally, while waiting for the plumber, turn on the heating and let some warm air into the room where the burst pipe is. Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer to gently warm up the frozen pipe.
How to Prevent Burst Pipes
You can’t always prevent the chance of a pipe in your home bursting. But, there are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of it happening, including:
- If going away during the winter, ensure your heating is turned on to around 15ºC a few hours each day.
- For longer periods away from home, consider draining your system entirely.
- Use fans to blow heat into cold rooms.
- Allow warm air to reach vulnerable pipes (e.g. under sinks).
- Ensure your walls are fully insulated.
- Add pipe sleeves or heat tape to exposed pipes
If you’ve got a burst pipe, always call a plumber. Don’t try to handle it yourself without the right skills, tools and knowledge. Call Sani Solutions for an emergency plumber in Bournemouth today.