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What Causes Pipes to Freeze and Burst?
What Causes Pipes to Freeze and Burst? Pipes freeze for obvious reasons – when the temperature drops outside, it’s not just your garden pond that will freeze over! Poorly insulated pipes, in homes that aren’t heated sufficiently will also freeze. You may remember from your school days science lessons that when water freezes, it expands. This expanding ice will cause a blockage in your pipework, but the blockage and ice isn’t actually the reason why the pipe bursts. It’s the build-up of water pressure between the ice blockage and the closed tap that causes the pipe to burst.
Protect Your Home From Flooding and Frozen or Burst Pipes
Before leaving the house on your jolly holidays, there are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t come back to a damaged or flooded property. Some are last minute checks, but some of these tips apply throughout the winter and are best to be checked as soon as the colder weather sets in.
Double Check That All Taps Are Turned Off
Sounds obvious right? But it will take you two minutes to quickly check that all taps are turned off properly before you leave your home. If you have younger children, check the bathroom taps after they have used them. A tap left running could wreak havoc while you are away.
Protect Outdoor Taps
This is one that people often forget about! If you have a garden tap which is connected to your water mains, then a quick and simple way to protect them from frost is to add a layer of insulation.
Fix Leaky Taps Before You Go Away
Prior to this, if you have any taps that have severe drips, it’s a good idea to get them fixed before you go away. Dripping taps can actually encourage pipes to freeze. Even if you aren’t going away – its still an idea to get those leaky faucets fixed so that you aren’t wasting water unnecessarily.
Check your Washing Machine Pipes
Washing machines hoses are a major cause of leaks of origins unknown! Make sure that the hoses at the back of the appliance are still secure and in good condition. They are relatively cheap and easy to replace, so it’s worth a quick check.
Set a Timer for the Heating While You Are Away
If you are leaving the house for a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to set the timer on your heating, to keep pipes from bursting and prevent damp or mould issues. If you are going away for a longer period, or are worried about wasting energy, ask a friend or relative to pop round occasionally to put the heating on for a couple of hours.
Make Sure Pipes Are Properly Lagged
Poorly or non-lagged pipes could freeze in cold weather. When the ice melts and expands, pipes can burst and cause flooding and damage. Make sure you pipes have sufficient lagging around them before you go away.
Should I Turn My Water Off When Going On Holiday?
Turning your water off at the stopcock before you go away will give you the best peace of mind. Some may say that with modern systems, this isn’t necessary these days, but it’s a two minute job and will stop you worrying whilst away.
Turning the water off is easy, simply locate the mains water inlet pipe and turn the stopcock valve off. If you’re not sure on how to do this, we will be happy to help you.
What Should I Do If I My Pipes Freeze Or Burst?
if you reach worst case scenario and your pipes freeze, immediately turn the water off at the stopcock. The stopcock is usually located under kitchen sink in most properties, but if you are having trouble locating it, then contact a plumber to assist you. Once the water has been turned off, switch your heating on and wait for the pipes to thaw. If you can locate the affected area, you can try to heat up the pipe with a hot water bottle. Move furniture or clothing away from pipe work in case a pipe bursts anyway.
If a pipe bursts, you should also turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heaters and switch on your taps to drain the system. It’s often best to call an emergency plumber in this situation as they will be able to sort the problem quickly, without causing further damage.
Get In Touch
We hope you found our advice useful, please get in touch if you have any questions about preventing frozen pipes