Flooding and leaking pipes

Follow these emergency self-help steps if you discover frozen or burst pipes at your property.

Frozen pipes

If you find that a pipe has frozen you should turn off the water at the main stopcock.

Ideally you should leave the pipes but you could try to thaw the pipe using hot water bottles. If you try this, take great care and do not use a blowlamp or any electrical appliance.

If the hot water system is frozen, you should turn off the water heater.

Burst pipes

If you find that a pipe has burst you should turn off the water at the main stopcock and turn off any gate valves from the water tank. You then need to run all your taps to drain water from the system.

You should turn off any water heaters. If electrical items or wiring are getting wet, do not touch them. You should turn off the electricity at the mains.

If water is leaking and making the ceiling bulge, place a bucket under the bulge and, using something like a screwdriver, pierce a hole to let the water through. This could prevent the ceiling from falling down.

General advice

Make sure you're prepared for an emergency involving flooding or leaking pipes by checking the location of your mains stopcock. It is usually where the mains water pipe enters the house or near the kitchen sink.

You should also make sure you know where the gate valves for the hot and cold water tanks are.

Lagging and insulation

If you have a loft or roof space and can get into the roof space, check that all the pipes and tanks are lagged. This is especially important if your loft has been insulated as this will mean less heat gets into the roof space. You should never have insulation beneath the water tank in the loft.

Cold weather

If you are going away for a several weeks during the winter, drain down the hot water and cold water system by turning off the stopcock and running all of the taps. Do not drain the heating system (boiler or radiators).

In very cold weather, you may want to open the loft hatch to allow heat into the loft and help prevent pipes from freezing.