Check your pipes to avoid home flood trouble

Frozen or bust water pipe?

Residents are being asked to make sure they are aware how to deal with frozen or burst water pipes during the current cold spell.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service has responded to a number of incidents in recent days involving internal flooding caused by pipes in several homes which have frozen and burst.

There are some simple things that residents can do to prevent bursts and reduce the damage to property if you are unfortunate to have a burst pipe.

Worried you have a frozen or burst pipe?

Locate and turn off the main stopcock, which will turn off the water supply. This might be under the kitchen sink, in an airing cupboard or under floorboards near the front door, it will be where the service pipe comes into your home.

While the pipe is still frozen you can remove nearby items to protect them from water damage, in case of a leak. Further information will be available via your water provider.

Frozen pipe

  • Check to see if the pipe has burst.
  • Slowly thaw the pipe with hot water bottles, a hairdryer on a warm setting or a towel soaked in hot water.
  • Never use a naked flame or blowtorch to thaw the pipe as this may cause permanent damage to the pipes and could also lead to a fire in the home

Burst pipe

  • Open all taps to reduce flooding.
  • Soak up/block off escaping water with towels.
  • Call a qualified plumber.
  • Turn off taps once pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding
  • Turn off your your electricity supply, if it is safe to do so. If water has leaked near your electrics isolate them using your isolator switch or fuse box. If you are unsure, contact your insurer or an electrician for advice.

To help prevent your pipes from freezing, it's important to:

  • 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.
  • Have contact details for a plumber.