What to do if a pipe bursts or begins to leak?

Introduction

A burst or leaking pipe can result in extensive damage to both a property and the belongings contained within it. This short article aims to provide you with the information needed to minimise the effect of a burst or leaking pipe.

Summary:

If you have a leaking or burst pipe:

  • Turn off the main water & electric supply.
  • Empty the system of water to stop the leak.
  • Do not use any effected electrical sockets.
  • Collect the leaked water.
  • Call your landlord or management company.
  • Make a list & take photos of any items which have been damaged.

Step 1: Turn off the water & electric

The first step once you have identified you have a burst pipe is to turn off the main stop cock which supplies water to the property. This is usually contained either beneath the sink or outside the property (figure 1 illustrates what a stop cock looks like).

Figure 1: The different types of stop cocks

Then turn off the electric supply to the property at the main fuse box or consumer unit. This is to ensure the water does not become electrified and extremely dangerous. If you are renting a property from K&G Lettings Limited, the location of both the fuse/consumer unit and the stop cock will be detailed in the welcome pack for your property.

 

Figure 2: Main fuse box/consumer unit

Step 2: Identifying the cause

If the water does not stop running after turning off the stop cock, the problem is not with the main supply of water. The issue may be with a storage tank. If this is the case it is essential to drain the remaining water from the tank. To
do this, flush the toilets several times and turn on all other cold taps. If the problem is with the hot water supply ensure the boiler and any immersion heater is turned off – this MUST be completed before draining the hot water system. Turn off the cold water feed to the boiler or immersion heater and turn on all of the hot water taps to drain the remaining hot water from the system. All leaks should cease once the system has been drained.

Step 3: Collecting the water

It is important that before any leaked water is collected to turn off the electric supply to avoid the possibility of  electrocution. Once the electric has been turned off you can begin to collect the water. It is recommended that any
dripping water from ceilings is collected in a bucket where possible. If a ceiling begins to bulge under the weight of water, there is no alternative but to pierce the plaster with something like a broom handle. Do not stand directly
underneath the bulging ceiling when piercing it as the weight of the water and any falling plasterboard may cause injury – be careful.

If electrical sockets or appliances have been effected by the leaking water do not use them until an electrician has given the all-clear.

Step 4: Call your Landlord or Management company

Once you have taken the above steps it is time to call your Landlord or Management company. The management company will arrange for a plumber to visit to assess the damage and begin to make any repairs. If the cause of the leak or broken pipe was negligence or misuse on the part of the tenant, any subsequent repairs and reinstatement of plumbing and decoration will be the responsibility of the tenant.

Step 5: Making an insurance claim

The next step is to make a detailed checklist of the items which have been damaged beyond repair to be presented to your insurance company. If you have a digital camera or camcorder it is a good idea to record the damage which has been caused by the leaking or burst pipe. However, an insurance company representative will want to visit you anyway soon afterwards so that they can assess the damage for themselves.

Step 6: Once repaired, no water from a cold tap

If you do not have water after the plumber has repaired the leaking or burst pipe you, ensure the stop cock and  turned on the cold water feed to the boiler are turned on.