There are a whole host of things that can go wrong with the plumbing in your home, from your washing machine breaking down, to a fault in your boiler or your radiators needing repairs, but nothing is quite as dramatic or in need of urgent attention as a burst pipe.

There are a number of reasons why pipes burst, but when they do, the results can be devastating if you don’t take action swiftly. The most common reason for a burst pipe is that they have frozen during the winter, which causes increased pressure from the added volume within the pipe which causes it to burst.

When pipes haven’t been installed correctly, they can also move around within the walls when they’re turned on or off; when they do this violently it can damage the joints and cause a pipe to burst. Similarly, old pipes which have been left to corrode will eventually wear out and the pressure in the pipe will cause it to split and leak.

No matter why or how your pipes burst, it’s essential that you get them fixed as soon as possible. Here’s what to do when a burst pipe strikes.


First Reaction and Immediate Practical Steps

When a pipe bursts, it can be a pretty scary experience, especially if the water is coming thick and fast. If a pipe bursts, it’s important not to panic and to remain calm. Getting blindsided by the experience and making the wrong decisions can make the issue worse and it’s crucial to take a few initial steps whilst you wait for a professional to arrive.


Turn Off The Water

The very first thing you should be doing when a pipe bursts in your home is turning off your water immediately to stem the flow of the outpouring. When a pipe bursts, the split could happen anywhere in the pipe, so finding the damaged area whilst water fills your home could take some time.

You have two ‘stop taps’ on your property; one which is inside your home and one which is just outside of your home near the boundary of your property. Both of these taps can be used to completely switch off the flow of water. The internal tap is usually located underneath your kitchen sink or in a downstairs toilet. If it’s not there, it could be in a garage or utility room. However, if you’re struggling to locate it, ask a neighbour as it should be in the same location.

Once you’ve found the tap, turn it clockwise to close it and anti-clockwise to reopen the water supply. This will stop the leak from getting worse while you follow the next steps and then call an emergency plumber.


Drain The Taps

The reason for most pipe bursts is a build-up of pressure in the pipes which leads to a split in the material, so draining the water from the system will help to relieve some of that pressure and also reduce the likelihood of any leftover water freezing.

Start with the cold water by turning on all of your cold taps and flushing each toilet a few times. Then, switch off your water boiler and heating system and follow that with draining all of the hot taps in your home too. When all of the water has been drained, there will be no more fluid in the system to fuel the leak and you can get on with the cleaning operation.


Clean The Area

Gather all of the towels, buckets and mops you have at your disposal and get to work to ensure the area is as clean as possible to avoid any further damage to your carpets, floors, walls and furniture. Getting rid of as much water as possible will help to avoid the risk of mould and mildew.


Turn off The Electrics in The Room and Remove Electric Appliances

If the leak has happened in an area of the home with a number of electrical appliances or it’s so large that it could easily spread to these areas, it’s worth also turning off the electricity to avoid any danger. Similarly, if there are any electrical appliances in the vicinity of the leak – vacuum cleaners, hairdryers etc – then remove these as well.


Warm The Place Up

Take some steps to warm the affected area up to help dry the room quicker and heat up the pipes again. Now that you’ve drained all the hot and cold water from your system, you can turn your heat back on and turn up the thermostat. You should also open up doors towards the pipes to allow the warm air to get there.


Take Photos

Now that you have managed to curtail the damage caused by the leak, you can begin to take photos and document the damage done as evidence for your insurance claim. Even if you don’t need them, having them is always the best bet.


Try and Temporarily Fix The Leak, But Be Careful!

There are a couple of things you can do to temporarily fix the pipe, but only ever do this if you feel confident enough. If you can find the leak, place a piece of rubber on the hole, followed by a block of wood to keep it in place and then add a C-clamp to keep it all in place. You should only ever attempt this if you feel confident and have the tools available to you.


Call an Emergency Plumbing Service As Soon as Possible

The main thing you must always do when faced with a burst pipe is call an emergency plumber and have them take a look at the damage as soon as possible. Emergency plumbers will be very experienced dealing with these issues and will be able to get your pipes back on the mend before you know it.

When the safety of your home and possessions is at stake, it’s essential to call professionals to deal with the issue to stop it from occurring again. Yes, you can take the above steps to help the situation temporarily but only an emergency plumber with the relevant experience will be able to resolve the issue and advise you on ways you can avoid the situation reoccurring.

If you attempt to completely fix the problem yourself, you could make the problem even worse, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.


Steps To Prevent a Similar Occurrence in The Future

As mentioned previously, the most common reason for a burst pipe is that the pipes have frozen during the winter. This can be prevented with a few easy precautions.

During the cold months, keep the house warm as much as possible even if you are out. Having warm air circulating around the home whilst you are out or away prevents the pipes from freezing – aim to keep the temperature between 12 and 15C. If you’re on holiday, open up cabinet doors and loft doors to allow the air to circulate into these areas and warm up pipes effectively.

When the temperature is extremely cold, you can leave some of the taps trickling to prevent them from freezing as running water is harder to freeze than still water, however, you’ll have to keep an eye on meter bills if you do this too much.

Finally, if you’re going away for a week or two and don’t want to keep your heating on, you could simply turn the entire water supply off and drain your taps before you leave to stop a pipe from bursting whilst you’re away. Needless to say, if a pipe bursts whilst you’re in another country and no one notices, the damage could be devastating.


Prestige Plumbers: Local Plumbers in Southampton You Can Trust

Here at Prestige Plumbers, we’ve been providing the residents of Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire for over four decades. If you’re searching for ‘plumbers in my area’ who can help in an emergency, carry out routine boiler services, perform water heater installations and assist with any other central heating or boiler requirements, you’ve come to the right place.

No job is too big or too small for us so, regardless of whether you’ve got a dripping tap or you need an entirely new central heating system, we can give you all of the assistance that you need. We put our customers at the heart of everything we do which is why we always endeavour to provide the very best service.

To find out more, contact us today. You can find us at Shedfield Plumbers Ltd T/A Prestige Plumbers, Unit 9, Shedfield Equestrian Centre & Nursery, Botley Road, Botley

Southampton, SO32 2HN or call us on 0800 0886 417. We look forward to hearing from you!