10 Ways to Avoid Burst Pipes

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Dealing with a burst pipe can be a major nightmare. In addition to causing serious damage in the short term, a burst pipe can result in everything from significant repair bills to the stress of not having a functional heating or plumbing system for several weeks while it’s repaired.

While options like home emergency cover can help you deal with the cost of a burst pipe after it’s happened, the most effective way to deal with a burst pipe is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Below, we’ve listed 10 tactics that you can use to avoid burst pipes, both inside your home and in your garden.

Memorise the location of your shut-off valve

While the most effective way to avoid a burst pipe is to stop it from happening in the first place, sometimes doing so isn’t possible. Before winter starts, make sure you know exactly how to get to your home’s safety shut-off valve so that you can quickly respond to any burst pipes.

Insulate your pipes before winter sets in

Insulating your pipes is a quick, simple and inexpensive way to reduce their risk of bursting as temperatures drop. It can also help you save money on your energy bill by reducing heat loss, helping you enjoy a more affordable winter.

Use extra insulation on pipes installed in outside walls

The outside walls of your home are the most exposed to the elements, meaning that any pipes installed inside them have the highest risk of freezing and bursting. Because of this, it’s best to install an extra layer of insulation on any pipes installed in your home’s outside walls.

Keep water flowing through unused taps

When the temperature gets really low, it can cause the contents of some internal pipes to freeze if they’re unused. If your home has taps that really get used, try allowing them to drip to provide some water flow and prevent the contents from freezing and damaging the pipe.

Avoid turning the heat off for any reason

During winter, it can be tempting to switch off your boiler to save money, especially when you’re away from home for one or several days. While doing this does save money in the short-term, it can also increase your risk of dealing with a burst pipe if temperatures drop.

Maintain a low but sufficient temperature

If you’re leaving the house for a few days, either for a weekend away or a short holiday, you can reduce the risk of a pipe bursting by keeping your heating set to a mild temperature. Consumer Reports recommends 12.7°C (55°C) as a good temperature for avoiding piping damage.

Consider installing a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats give you extra control over your boiler, letting you control the exact temperature of your home, set timers and more. If you’re often out of the house, you can use a programmable thermostat to set a holiday heating setting, helping you avoid frozen pipes.

Open interior doors to create heat circulation

During winter, it’s common to close some interior doors to “trap” heat inside certain rooms for a more comfortable environment. Instead of doing this, aim to keep interior doors open to create steady air flow throughout your home, reducing the risk of pipes freezing over.

Apply the same technique to cabinet and vanity unit doors

This technique also works well for cabinets and vanity units, which often contain small pipes for taps and shower heads. If any of your bathrooms have walls that back onto the exterior of your home, try keeping any attached doors open to provide steady air flow to exposed plumbing.

Travelling? Make sure to check the forecast before you leave

If you’re travelling for winter, make sure you check the forecast before you leave and, if you feel it’s necessary, adjust your holiday heating settings. The Met Office has a helpful online weather service that lists all UK weather warnings, as well as forecasts for all major locations.

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