How to prevent burst or frozen pipes this winter

With the drop in temperatures throughout Winter, your pipes could potentially freeze and even burst! 


Winter can sometimes mean temperatures dropping to low levels. This can lead to the pipes in your home freezing and potentially bursting. This can severely damage your home and your belongings.

Take a read of this article to find out why pipes burst and freeze and how to avoid it in your home this winter!

Why do pipes freeze?

The cold weather leaves your pipes vulnerable to freezing and here are the most common causes:

  • Pipes which haven't been sufficiently insulated

  • Cracks or gaps in pipes, usually at the point where the pipe enters the home leaving them exposed to icy draughts

  • Pipes inside cupboards. If your cupboard doors are closed warm air will not reach these pipes leaving the extra chilly

Why do pipes burst?

Surprisingly, pipes don't usually burst at the spot an ice blockage has occurred. Take a look below to find out where the burst usually occurs and what causes this to happen.

  • Bursts are an effect of water freezing and expanding inside your household pipes

  • Continual freezing and expansion of water inside the pipe causes pressure to build up between the ice blockage and the closed tap

  • Repeated pressure on the same section of pipe results in this eventually bursting

How to prevent it happening

Unfortunately we can't change the weather, so take a look at our simple winter care tips to prevent frozen pipes and ensure your water flows freely through your pipes this winter.

  • Get insulated

    Key areas to insulate are your loft and the sides of your water tanks. Wrap pipes in lagging (a foam material that insulates and reinforces them). You will find this at most DIY stores.

  • Keep out the cold

Whilst most modern boilers have a frost protection thermostat which turns up automatically, if the temperature drops to a level that will cause frozen pipes, there are further precautions that can be taken. Firstly, check that this function is working properly, it's also a good idea to open your loft hatch door and any sink cupboards on cold days to let in the heat.

In very cold weather, it is best to leave your heating on a low setting, or set it to come on a couple of times a day. Keep this in mind if you are going on holiday for longer than a day or two.

  • Find your stopcock

Do you know where your home's stopcock is? You should locate your stopcock and check it regularly to ensure you can turn it off easily in an emergency. You may find it helpful to label your stopcock, so you can easily locate it if you're in a panic.

  • Check pipes regularly

    If you're going away for a while, ask a friend, relative or neighbour to check your home regularly to ensure your pipes haven't burst or frozen. You can always repay the favour when they next go on holiday.

  • Maintenance is key

It is vital to replace washers in dripping taps; if they freeze, they'll block your pipes

  • If your pipes freeze

Dealing with burst or frozen pipes is tricky business. If your pipes do burst or freeze over the winter months, there are a number of steps you can take to sort out the problem quickly and safely.

For further information, take a look at our article about dealing with frozen or burst pipes.

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