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What To Do When You Have A Burst Pipe

What To Do With When You Have A Burst Pipe

A burst water pipe in your home is the last thing you want as it can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. Known as an Escape of Water, a water pipe bursting is one of the most common causes of home Insurance Claims and the number one cause of water damage in a home.

Even a small leak can cause serious water damage. Here we will explain how a burst water pipe occurs, how to prevent it and what to do if you suffer one in your home.

How does a water pipe burst?

There are several reasons as to why a water pipe may burst. The main causes are:

  • Freezing
  • Corrosion
  • Clogs
  • Tree roots


A burst water pipe is more often than not caused by the pipe freezing. A pipe bursts when frozen due to the expansion of water as it turns to ice, increasing pressure from inside the pipe until something gives. As it will often only start to leak once the ice thaws out, a burst pipe can go undetected until temperatures rise above freezing again.


If your property is quite old, it is possible that the pipes have had their fair wear and tear and have thus weakened over time. Consistent pressure of water over the years causes corrosion. When this happens, the pipe will narrow and eventually crack open due to pressure.


Burst pipes can also occur when there is a clog inside the pipe. Once again, the clog will cause pressure to build up inside the pipe until it inevitably bursts.

Tree roots

Another major cause of burst pipes is tree root encroachment. This is when the tree roots extend as the tree grows, and eventually come across a pipe. Pipes are often not strong enough to prevent themselves from cracking under the pressure of the roots.

How to tell if your pipes are frozen

The main signs that you have frozen pipes are:

  • No water coming from taps
  • Frost covering pipes
  • Cracked pipes
  • Sewer smell

No water coming from taps

The clearest indication that your pipes are frozen is if there is no water coming out of the taps. If several taps do not have water coming out of them, then part of a pipe could be frozen resulting in there not being enough pressure to push water through.

Frost covering pipes

Other signs that your pipes are frozen is if there is visible frost or ice covering the pipes. This will be easy to spot if you have exposed pipes that you can see. If frost is the case, it very possible for that part of the pipe to be fully frozen inside.

Pipes covered in ice or frost is a clear indication that the pipe is frozen
Pipes covered in ice or frost is a clear indication that the pipe is frozen

Cracked pipes

Cracks in the pipe are a result of built up pressure inside the pipe which is caused by freezing water. Over time the pressure inside the pipe causes it to become weak and eventually crack or burst.

Sewer smell

If the water in your drain pipe freezes, you will likely experience a foul sewer smell coming from your drains. This is because the ice will create a block in the pipe, preventing the odors from food and waste from escaping to the sewer.

How to stop pipes from freezing - prevent burst pipes

You can avoid the carnage of a burst pipe by taking various measures to prevent pipes from freezing. Firstly you need to make sure you know where your stopcock is and how to turn the water off. To stop water freezing, make sure that all your pipes are lagged, even in hard to get to places. Dripping taps should also be repaired because if these freeze, they will block your pipes and may cause pressure on joints and fittings. It is also important to make sure your water tank is insulated.

Lagged pipes
Ensuring that your pipes are lagged critically reduces the likelihood of pipes freezing.

Keep your home warm during cold weather

When the weather outside gets close to freezing it is important to keep your home warm to avoid any pipes freezing. When you are away, program your heating to come on automatically. If heating is on for an hour or more each day while you're away and the temperature plummets, it may stop the pipes freezing.

What to do if pipes freeze

If you find frozen pipes in your home, there are a number of steps you should take reduce the chance of the pipe bursting and causing water damage.

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock.
  • Turn on all your cold taps and flush your toilets.
  • Try to defrost pipes using a hairdryer.
  • Switch off your central heating, immersion heater then turn on your hot taps to run off all the hot water.
  • If anything electrical has got wet switch off the mains. Never touch the mains switch if it's wet.
  • Remove as much standing water as possible using a mop or wet vac if the leak isn't too severe. If it's a more serious leak, call in a water damage expert.

Do pipes make noise when they burst?

Burst pipes often make a loud "popping" sound which you may hear coming from a wall in your home. You may also notice metallic rattling sounds after a pipe bursts.

What to do when a water pipe bursts

The first thing you should do when you notice a burst pipe is turn off the water main. You only want to deal with the water already in the system rather and so this will limit how much water leaks into your home. You should then mop up the water as best as you can to avoid mould potentially growing in your home. Of course, it is very important to call a plumber as soon as possible to get your burst pipe repaired and avoid further damage.

Water damage and Insurance Claims after a burst pipe

After a burst pipe you should contact a water damage repair company as soon as possible. They will get specialist drying equipment in to minimise further damage.

Specialist drying equipment - dehumidifiers
A water damage repair expert will use specialist drying equipment such as dehumidifiers to dry your property.

You also need to call your Insurance company and make a water damage claim. They will appoint a Loss Adjuster to contact you to assess the damage in detail. In some cases, you will need the assistance of a Loss Assessors such as Oakleafe to fight your case with Insurers. They will help you arrange alternative accommodation, engage specialist contractors and surveyors who will plan the restoration process for you. Ideally you should do this within 24 hours of you contacting your insurer.

Related Claims and Topics
Burst Pipe,commercial claims,Domestic claims,Frozen pipe,insurance claim,Insurance Claim Management,Insurance Claims Handling,Loss Assessor,Pipe freezing,water damage,Water pipe burst
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