What to do when a pipe bursts

In terms of accidents that can occur inside the home, it's one of the worst.

A burst pipe, whether it's in the bathroom, the kitchen or anywhere else in the house, can have a devastating effect on your property, especially if it goes unnoticed for a length of time that ultimately leads to flooding.

Unfortunately, incidents like this do happen from time to time, whether it be because of frozen pipes, corrosion or water pressure causing badly-fitted joints to give way. 

When they occur while you are out of the property, there is little you can do to rectify the situation. However, knowing how to act quickly and effectively if you are in the vicinity can be the difference between having to shell out a couple of pounds for a new pipe or potentially thousands to redecorate and replace floorboards and plaster.

Identify the source

This first task shouldn't be too difficult - just follow the sound of water. Nevertheless, it's important to find out where the leak is coming from before you switch off your supply, as otherwise you'll have no idea what needs repairing when the water stops flowing!

Turn off the water

Your next step should be to stem the flow of water through your pipe network by turning your stopcock, which is normally located underneath the kitchen sink. Knowing whereabouts this is in your home is vital though, so don't wait until disaster strikes to look for it.

Drain your system

To get rid of any remaining water within your pipes, flush your toilets and turn on all of your cold taps throughout the house. Don't worry about the leak flaring up again - shutting off your stopcock has already ensured this won't happen. 

Next, turn off your heating system and go through the same process for your hot taps.

Clean up

Before addressing the source of the leak, your next task is to begin the cleanup operation. If you were quick to catch the problem, then you may only need towels to soak up the excess water. 

However, if you weren't so lucky, then you might have to use buckets to catch any drips coming through if the incident occurred on an above level of the house. Pay attention to the state of the ceiling - you should use a screwdriver or broom handle if you notice it starting to bulge.

Fix the problem

Depending on your own confidence in carrying out repairs and the extent of the burst that's caused all the trouble, it could be a good idea to call out a professional plumber to do the work for you. 

Otherwise, make sure you have everything you need before you get started - with a pipe clamp, infill connectors and repair putty all likely requirements.

What to do if you're going away

With the summer holidays in full swing, you may wish to take precautions to ensure you are not caught out in the event of a random pipe burst. Even though it's highly unlikely we'll get sub-zero temperatures at this time of year, there are other ways that can cause a leak!

As a result, you should make sure that your neighbours and/or family know where the stopcock is and what they need to do if they realise you've got had a burst.

Alternatively, you can always turn the stopcock off yourself and drain the system before you leave, which could be the best option if you're planning to be out of the house for an extended period of time.

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