Simple steps to reduce the risk of burst pipes

During cold weather, inconvenience and damage as a result of burst pipes is a real possibility. Potential repairs alone can run into many thousands of pounds. However, with some simple precautions the risk can be reduced.

Prevention is better than cure

Taking the following simple steps will significantly reduce the risk of burst pipes within the home.

Preventing burst and frozen pipes

The following can help prevent your pipes from freezing:

  • know where the internal stop/tap valve is (usually under the kitchen sink) and how to turn it off
  • keep the home as warm as possible even if you are out
  • lag pipes in exposed or draughty places
  • leave the trap door to roofspace open to let warm air flow in during extreme weather conditions when there is the chance that un-lagged water tanks and pipes could freeze
  • see that taps are turned off properly, especially last thing at night
  • have a SNIPEF (Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers Federation) number to hand

You can contact SNIPEF on:

You should:

Frozen pipes

If you have a frozen pipe:

  • put hot water bottles or a thick cloth soaked in hot water over the frozen pipe - when thawing, start at the end of the pipe nearest the tap and work away from it
  • never use a naked flame

Burst pipes

If a pipe bursts:

  • turn off the main stopcock
  • if the flow of water cannot be stopped, open all the cold taps to drain the system
  • if the burst is on a pipe from the storage tank, turn off the stop valve in the storage tank, turn on all hot taps to drain the system, allow the fire to burn out or turn the heating off until the burst pipe has been attended to by a plumber

Reporting a problem

If you are a Housing Executive tenant and need an emergency repair, you should contact your local District Office during office hours.

You can also contact the Emergency Out of Hours Service in the evenings, weekends or holidays:

  • telephone: 03448 920 901
  • textphone: 0845 6504381

NI Water does not have a responsibility for burst pipes which occur inside the home, and therefore can only offer limited help. Consumers can contact Customer Services by:

You can report leaks on roads and footpaths using the following freephone number:

  • Leakline: 08000 282011

Consumers who have a disability, are an older consumer, have a serious medical condition or need extra help for any other reason can join NI Water’s Customer Care Register by phoning Waterline:

  • telephone: 08457 440088

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