Winter checklist to prevent burst pipes

Leaks or ‘escape of water’ from burst water pipes are reported as the most common type of homeowner insurance claim during the winter, the potential water loss can be as much as 400 litres an hour. Leaks from appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, radiators and boilers are also common causes of water damage, make sure to check pipework for leaks and signs of bulging or cracking regularly. Turning off the mains water supply before leaving for a winter holiday could help prevent damage caused by a potential burst pipe.

Burst pipes can be very damaging, it's important to do anything you can to minimise the risk of a Burst Pipe happening in your home. Any outside pipes must be buried deep enough in the ground and/or lagged to insure they're insulated enough. During particularly cold spells the heating should be on at least 12°C to keep the system warm enough to prevent damage from frost, leaving the loft hatch open will allow for warm air to circulate and warm any pipes in the loft space, reducing the risk of a Burst Pipe.

The stopcock (main water valve) controls the water flow in a home, it is very important to know where the stopcock is in case of a burst water pipe or a leak. If a pipe bursts, immediately turn off the mains water at the stopcock. Once the water supply is off and isolated, turn on the cold taps and flush the toilet to safely drain any water sat within the pipes. Don't touch any wiring or switches that may have been affected by the leak.

Winter checklist:

  • Make sure all occupants know where the stopcock is
  • Regularly check pipes around the house for bulging, cracks or frost
  • Set the central heating boiler to always be at least 12°C to protect from frost
  • If a brass stopcock is fitted, make sure it hasn't been seized up by limescale; for quicker access, consider installing a Surestop stockcock
  • If leaving the house empty for a winter holiday, turn-off your mains water supply
  • Insulate outside pipes that are often exposed to frost, as well as pipes running through cold loft spaces


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