Expert Shares How to Avoid Burst Pipes as Temperatures Plummet

The Met Office has issued yellow alerts for snow and ice this week, and temperatures plummeting to below zero in many parts of the country; homeowners must take the necessary precautions to avoid water damage.

Anna McEntee from the home insurance team at Comparethemarket shares some important tips and vital actions homeowners can take to avoid the risk of burst pipes caused by the cold snap we’re currently facing.

“Issues with running water and heating in cold weather are uncomfortable, and water damage caused by leaks can be potentially costly. As temperatures across the country drop below zero, the water in pipes freezes and expands, causing cracks and ruptures, which defrosted water can then leak out from.”

Here are some preventative measures 

  • Don’t leave your heating off for long periods. Leaving your heating on is beneficial if you’re away from home, even if it’s just for an hour a day or at a low level throughout the day.
  • Ask a plumber to fit a leak-detection device. This device will detect if there’s a sudden spike in your water usage, cutting off your supply and helping to limit the damage.
  • Carry out visual checks for leaks. As the temperatures drop, it’s advised to regularly check under sinks and behind bath panels for any cracks, drips or leaks.
  • Don’t put your dishwasher or washing machine on before you go out. Only using these appliances while you’re at home means you’ll hopefully be able to spot a leak before it becomes a more significant issue.
  • Turn the water off if you’re going away for a long time. Turning your water off if you are away for a long period will prevent any issues, such as leaks.

If your pipes do freeze, there are four crucial actions 

  • Turn the water supply off at your stopcock. They are usually under the kitchen sink or in the downstairs toilet, but familiarising yourself with their location is important.
  • Don’t pour boiling water directly onto a frozen pipe. Pouring boiling water directly onto a frozen pipe can cause it to crack, so this should never be attempted. The heating more controlled way will help reduce the risk of this happening.
  • Switch your water and central heating off. As soon as you’ve done this, call an emergency plumber.
  • Contact your insurance provider. Most insurers have a 24-hour helpline, so you can reach them anytime – day or night.