During the winter months, burst pipes are a daily occurrence for our team here at Maintracts. They are not only a huge pain which can lead to leakages and sometimes flooding, they are also a huge inconvenience and when left untreated, can damage your home and belongings.  Calling an emergency plumber to make repairs as soon as possible is always recommended.  However, in this blog we outline some of the classic signs of a burst pipe, the preventative steps you can take and some guidance on what you can do if a pipe bursts in your home to help limit the damage while you await your plumber to arrive.

How do you know if you have a burst pipe?

In the majority of cases, the signs will be obvious and will alert you quickly that your plumbing needs some attention.  However, not all signs of a broken pipe are obvious to a homeowner. The most common signs to look out for are:

Freezing temperatures
Winter is a particularly fraught time for weak pipes as freezing temperatures mean frozen pipes. When water freezes, it expands with incredible force which can cause your pipes to burst under the pressure.

Unsightly discolouring of your walls or ceilings
Stains on your walls is often a clear signal that there is a problem with your home waterworks. A wet stain on your ceiling or walls is a sign that there is water somewhere it shouldn’t be. A stain could indicate a leak in your roof or in your upstairs bathroom but is also may be a sign of a leaking or burst pipe in the plumbing running in your walls. Often, by the time you notice the stain, the plumbing may have been leaking for quite a while, acting fast to prevent further damage or mould growth is encouraged.

Discoloured water can also be a symptom of a broken pipe. If the water running out of your taps has a brownish tinge to it, then this could be due to the pipe deteriorating or having failed.

Smelly pipes
If a drainage pipe has broken then it could become partially blocked, causing foul odours to be produced. So, if you have a smell emanating from your sink, shower, or bath, call your plumber. In some cases, you may also notice bubbles or even whistling sounds seeping from the pipes – all signs of a pipework issue.

Low water pressure
If water is escaping through a burst pipe then it is likely that the water supply from your taps and showers will be reduced.

What should I do if a pipe bursts?

No matter how or why a pipe has burst, it is important to get it fixed as soon as you can. If you have ever experienced a burst pipe in your home, you will know it can be quite a daunting experience especially if water is escaping quickly. Here are a few practical things you can do to reduce the damage while you wait for your plumber to arrive:

Turn off the water to stop the leak. A pipe could fail anywhere in the property, so might not be visible or accessible and so could be difficult to locate. Turn off the water supply to the property whilst you try to locate the leak. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with where your stop tap is and how to turn it off, so you are prepared in the event of a burst pipe or other plumbing emergency.

Drain the water from the pipework. Once the water had been turned off, open the taps to drain as much water from the system as possible so that the leak stops quickly. Turn on your heating to help warm up the property and dry the affected area quicker.

Consider your electrics. It is always a good idea to turn off your electricity as well as your water in case the electrical installation has been affected by the leak.

Clean up the area. Dry the area as much as possible to avoid any further damage to your carpets and furniture. This will help to avoid mould and mildew breeding and the harmful allergens and irritants they produce.

Take pictures. Take photographs of the leak and damage caused to provide to your insurers if necessary.

How can I prevent my pipes from bursting?

Insulating pipework and equipment in areas susceptible to the effects of cold weather could be a lifesaver.  This could prevent freezing and leaks from occurring.  Keep an eye on your plumbing, if you can see frost on the outside of your pipes or icicles hanging from your pipes, they will be frozen.  If this is the case, do not attempt to defrost the pipe yourself as this could cause a substantial leak to occur.  An emergency plumber should be your first port of call.

  • Turn off the water supplies to external taps and pipework during the winter.
  • Leave your heating on low even when you are away from your property. This will help keep the air inside warm and help stop internal pipes from freezing.
  • Open your loft hatch and kitchen cabinet doors to help warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks or in the loft.
  • Run your taps regularly. Water will find it harder to freeze if it is running so turn your taps on and off regularly. If you know you will be away from your property for a long period of time during cold weather, consider draining the water from your system completely.

A burst pipe can be the bane of any homeowner’s existence and we would always recommend calling an approved plumber to handle the situation. By having the basic knowledge outlined in this blog, you will hopefully be confident in the steps you can take to limit the damage caused whilst you wait for the experts to arrive as well as some preventative measures that you can implement to help prevent a reoccurrence in the future.