Burst and Frozen Pipes


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Burst water pipes in the home

Homeowners are responsible for burst pipes which occur inside the home.  If a pipe does burst:

  • Turn off the stop tap or valve
  • Try and block the escaping water with thick cloth like towels Housing
  • Open all taps to reduce flooding
  • Call a plumber (see below)
  • Don’t forget to turn off taps once the problem is fixed, otherwise there will be another flood later

Northern Ireland Water Service recommends using plumbers registered with SNIPEF (Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation). See Yellow Pages for full list of plumbers including SNIPEF registered plumbers.

Avoiding frozen pipes

There are a number of things you can do in your home to try and prevent pipes from freezing;

  1. Insulate water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like lofts, roof spaces, garages, outbuildings
  2. Fix dripping taps
  3. Check where internal stop tap/valve is located-usually under the kitchen sink
  4. Keep your boiler well serviced to keep the house heated
  5. Make sure doors and windows from unheated parts of your property are kept closed and minimise any draughts from outside
  6. Open the trap door into the roof space to allow some of the warm air to circulate in the roof space
  7. Leave the heating on low if you are away from home and leave a key with a neighbour, friend or family member who can check the house regularly for frozen pipes
  8.  Write down the name and contact details for a number of plumbers in your area.
  9. Dealing with frozen pipes
  10. Turn water supply off at the stop tap/valve
  11. Thaw along the pipe starting from the end nearest the tap
  12. Don’t use a blow lamp or any naked flame
  13. Put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe or use an electric hair dryer at its lowest setting to thaw pipes. Be careful not to warm them too quickly or they may burst
  14. Don’t leave taps dripping or running. The water may not flush down the plug hole if the pipes below are frozen

(Source: Northern Ireland Water, Advice on protecting your water pipes in winter leaflet, 2007,).