How to Prevent Burst Water Pipes?

Do you remember the old saying that prevention is better than cure? When it comes to preventing burst water pipes during the winter months this is certainly true. A burst pipe is a problem that can prove distressing, destructive, time consuming and costly so it makes sense to know how you can act now to avoid the worst case scenario. Action today will help your water pipes in the long term, whatever the weather conditions. We take water pipes for granted and only really notice them when they don’t perform as expected. They’re under pressure from humans to serve us well and from the water that forges through the pipework.

At FS Drainage we handle a great number of call outs each winter to rectify burst pipe issues in domestic and commercial settings. There are not a lot of situations we haven’t encountered throughout our years working in the industry. You can trust our advice and we’ll help you every step of the way through any plumbing incident.

What causes burst water pipes?

Winter’s freezing conditions are the main culprit but burst water pipes can also occur when the pipe is damaged, aged or it breaks down through misuse. 

We now have such complicated water networks in our towns and cities. Just imagine what the drainage system below London must look like. One issue in a location may lead to others further along in the network. For example, a burst pipe in the street which requires official and expert water company attention can impact on your property or premises so if this occurs please be watchful for any signs of a more localised problem. The earlier that a problem can be treated, the better. Of course, burst pipes that can deliver the equivalent of bathfuls of water per hour don’t give us the luxury of time. When you need emergency plumbing services, don’t panic. Call FS Drainage’s team.

Do you know where the main stopcock is?

Is it accessible? Do you have more than one stopcock on the property? Are these accessible or hidden behind a boiler or heavy furniture or perhaps the stopcock is surrounded by items stowed away in a discreet space? Your answers can make a significant difference in a crisis. It’s vital that you are aware so that you act and shut off the water supply immediately and run the taps so that the entire system drains fully. A lot of damage can be caused by a burst water pipe within minutes so please spend as little time as possible racing around the building searching for the stopcock. Beyond the exterior of the building there is an external stopcock. This may be shared between several properties and requires a special tool to operate it but if you can shut this off too, it is wholly beneficial. You’ll be glad you took the time to learn every stopcock’s position and how to reach them with ease and turn them. Do this when you’re calm, not frantic.

Maintenance is key.

Regular maintenance visits for the central heating system and boiler will alert a trained eye to a potential issue. It can be tempting to forgo professional maintenance visits and treat them as an unnecessary expense but it’s normally a false economy to miss routine checks. 

A leak from a water pipe in a roof or secluded space is not always noticed quickly, especially when it is a drip or trickle, so why not make frequent checks throughout the colder seasons to ensure that there are no new stains or damp spots on ceilings and floors. This five or ten minute task could save you from a wealth of trouble later. If you hear odd noises or notice that your water isn’t flowing as effectively then investigate as soon as possible.

An electrical issue in the property can also be an indicator of a burgeoning pipe problem.

Think of water pipe checks in the same way as cleaning your teeth; it may be a chore but it saves the dentist’s visit and the bill from being horrendous.

Installing lagging is far less expensive and stressful than a burst pipe.

Taking time to lag water pipes in cold or exposed locations is good old fashioned common sense. Lofts, garages, basements, garden houses, outdoor kitchens and sheds fall into the lagging category for protection. So too do water tanks, outdoor taps and overflow pipes.

If you know of a leak, please fix it before the cold weather sets in.

Many of the burst water pipe incidents that professionals like us attend started with an innocent little drip. Freezing weather exacerbates the seemingly untroubling water issue.

Going away?

Although Covid-19 has limited our travelling abilities, if you are lucky enough to be going away this winter even for a few days please ensure that you close the stopcock, turn the taps on to drain the system, and turn them off again. As you may not have any heating on in the building don’t neglect the need for the appropriate pipework to be lagged. Many central heating systems work for a limited time without the water supply being on. Asking a family member, friend or neighbour to enter the property and check that all is well delivers peace of mind too.


Sometimes, no matter how many preventative measures you have in place, a burst water pipe will cause an unwelcome situation. In these moments, apart from turning the stopcock off, draining the system and seeking professional emergency burst water pipe services, you can work to minimise the water damage. Remove any furniture, electrical items and belongings from the affected area, perhaps move rugs and curtains that rest in the way of the flow too. Sweep or mop water away as swiftly as possible. This activity will give you an excellent workout but it can also help with an insurance claim.
Secure your peace of mind by acting wisely now. For further advice or answers to other drainage questions, please get in touch.