Burst Pipes: Most Common Causes And How To Prevent Them

A burst pipe can be an expensive ordeal. The emergency plumber call out can be in the region of £100, while the potential cost of water damage and mold accumulation to your property can bring the expense way into the thousands. As a homeowner, simply being aware of how pipes burst and taking some proactive steps could save you a vast amount of time and money.

Below we have listed the 3 most common causes of leaking pipes and the action you can take to protect against them.

1. Frozen pipes

Cold weather can cause serious plumbing issues. When water freezes inside a pipe it expands and causes a huge increase in pressure. When this occurs at a weak point, the pressure can cause the pipe to burst.



Insulating your pipes and water tanks is a cheap and straightforward step you can take to prevent a plumbing emergency. Foam insulation wrap for pipes, known as “lagging”, can be bought from DIY shops and fitted yourself. There are key areas in your home that you should look to insulate:

-Outside pipes, overflow pipes, drain pipes and taps (make sure when applying the lagging, that all joints and bends are covered, as well as the straight parts) You should also make sure that outside pipes that are buried in the ground are buried deep enough.

- Pipes located in the colder part of the home, such as garages, lofts and basements

-Water tanks -especially those located in colder parts of the home. There are special insulation jackets that can be bought to fit water tanks.

Use your central heating correctly

- In particularly cold weather it is important to have your central heating on for at least a few hours a day even if your home is unoccupied. This will help keep water flowing freely at a consistent rate.

-If you have pipes in unheated areas of your home, such as in lofts or cupboard spaces, then it is a good idea to open up the necessary doors and hatches to let warm air in. This circulation will help these sheltered areas from dropping to freezing.

Fix dripping taps

-In very cold weather, even a trickle of water can freeze and block the whole pipe.

Take precautions when leaving your home unoccupied

-If you’re planning on leaving your home for more than a couple of days during a cold period, then it is a good idea to turn your water off at the stopcock and drain your taps (you can do this by simply running them until they’re empty).

2. Clogged Pipes

If any of the piping in your plumbing system becomes clogged, there will be an increase in water pressure. This pressure causes the pipes to expand and in some cases burst.


Stop the wrong things from entering your plumbing system

-Collect cooking grease and dispose of it in your waste, not down the drain. Although usually hot straight after cooking, grease quickly cools and congeals in your piping system. This slimy substance is then likely to catch other solids running down your pipes and cause a clog.

-Collect food waste, before it goes down the drain. Similar to cooking grease, an accumulation of small food waste in your sink can end up sticking together and causing a clog. You are much better off filtering this waste with sink strainers and throwing it in the bin.

-In the bathroom, catch hair before it goes down the drain. Much like sink strainers, mesh screens are available for the same purpose in your bathroom. It is also advisable to remove your sink stoppers and clean them often.

Flush your drains

- It is a good idea to pour very hot, or boiling water down your most used drains once a week. This water helps to remove any potential buildups before they become a full on clog.

-If you have low flow toilets of faucets, it is also advisable to flush these regularly. The lower volume of water used with these plumbing systems often means that debris builds up more readily.

3. Pipe corrosion

Pipes corrode naturally over time due to biological and chemical reactions that take place between the pipe’s metal and the substances that it encounters (on the inside and out). The gradual weakening of the pipe structure makes it increasingly vulnerable to water pressure and to a leak.


Check your water

- It is recommended that the PH level of your water be between 6.5 and 8.5. If it is too low then it can cause expensive damage to your pipe structure. Low water PH can be rectified by a plumber with with chemical treatment.

-Too much hot water running through pipes has been known to speed up the corrosion process

-Corrosion is also caused by biological agents in water. If you are sending particularly dirty water down your drain, you should maybe consider treating your water chemically before doing so.

Add a metal protector

-Adding a protective layer between your pipes and the chemicals it encounters, can inhibit harmful reactions. A popular choice is adding a layer of zinc to metal surfaces in a process known as galvanization.