What to do if your pipes freeze

If you think you’ve got a frozen pipe, don’t panic. Here is information from British Gas on what you can do to keep it from bursting and save yourself the hassle of a leak or flood.

Look out for the warning signs

  • Your central heating makes gurgling sounds when it’s on
  • Your boiler won’t turn on
  • There’s no water coming out of your taps, or just a trickle
  • Your sink is clogged and your toilet is flushing slowly.

Finding the frozen pipe

First things first, you’ll need to find out which pipe is frozen. If you have a modern condensing boiler, it’ll most likely be your condensate pipe. This will be a plastic one that comes out of your boiler – find where it goes outside to see if it’s frosted over.

Unfortunately, any outdoor pipe can be at risk during icy weather, as are the ones that pass through any cold spots in the house – like lofts, basements and cupboards that sit on external walls.

Thaw the pipe

Once you’ve found the culprit, you’ll need to thaw it out to get things flowing again. Slowly pour hot (but never boiling) water over the frozen pipe and place a hot water bottle over it to help melt away the ice. 

Finding a burst pipe

A burst pipe might not be as obvious as a kitchen full of water. You may have a slow leak which, left to its own devices, can cause just as much damage to your home and electrics.

Here’s how to spot them

  • Problems with your water pressure or trouble with your water flow
  • Water marks or patches on your walls or ceilings
  • Bulging walls or ceilings
  • Damp patches on the floor.

What to do if you have a leak or flood

Turn off the water supply straight away

You’ll need to turn the stopcock valve to close off your water supply – and don’t turn it back on until a plumber has fixed things. If you’re not sure where your stopcock is, try looking under the kitchen sink or in a cupboard – possibly even one outdoors. You'll need to switch off your central heating too.

If the leak is coming from outside your property and you can’t turn off the water supply, you’ll need to find and contact your water supplier.

Turn on all the taps

You'll need to get all the water out the pipes quickly so it can drain away without causing too much damage. Turn on all the taps in your home, allow the water to drain completely until there's nothing left, then turn them off.

Soak up any escaped water

To limit the damage, get a few old towels and soak up any water that's escaped from the burst pipe. And if you’ve got standing water in your home, your insurance company will let you know what to do next. But we’ll get back to that shortly.

Make your electrics safe

If there’s a chance that any electrics have got wet, turn the power off at the mains. Let them dry off completely and have them checked by a qualified electrician before turning them back on.

For more information, visit British Gas' website