Last edited 03 Jan 2021

How to prevent frozen pipes

When water freezes it expands. If water freezes inside pipes, this expansion can cause them to burst. As the pipe then thaws, the leakage of water and subsequent damage caused can be very significant.

Burst pipes caused serious losses during the cold winters of 1963 and 1981. Since the widespread installation of central heating, burst pipes have become less common, but in the cold winter of 2010, the Association of British Insurers reported up to 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage were made every day resulting in a pay out of around £2.5 million a day. The cost of damage to households as a result of burst pipes was in the order of £7,000 per household.

Most at risk are outdoor pipes such as garden taps or hoses, supplies to swimming pools, sprinkler systems and so on. However, inside buildings pipes may be at risk if the building is unheated or if pipes are in unheated areas such as garages, basements, attics, crawl spaces and so on.

Within buildings, the risk of frozen pipes can be reduced by:

If a pipe freezes, this may be apparent because the water stops running.

If pipes freeze:

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