It isn't a situation any of us want to be in, but if you have the misfortune of discovering a leak in a pipe due to the cold weather, the thought of having to get a plumber in to fix the damage is just more expense that you could do without. To be fair, most insurance companies will cover you for any necessary repair work, but you might want to do a DIY repair job in the meantime to ensure that no further damage is caused in the short term.
We gave you some simple advice in a previous article on how to prevent your pipes from freezing, but it might pay to go over those points again. Simply lagging your pipe work keeping your central heating ticking over while you are away and having a plumber check your pipework regularly should prevent any problems.
But if the worst should happen the following tips should help you to fix the problem and prevent further hefty insurance claims.
- The first thing to do is to turn off the water supply and drain all the water from your system by opening the taps until they run dry.
- Find the source of the leak and examine the complete length of accessible pipe work to see if there are any other weak spots, cracks or loose joints.
- Use a hair drier or heater to thaw out the pipe and to get the water flowing again. This may only be done if you are certain that the pipe / joints are not damaged or split. Never use an electrical appliance in the vicinity of water.
- If you are not sure about using solder and a propane torch to fix the broken section then now is the time to call in a plumber. Some duct tape around the broken section should hold it for a short while.
- If not, then use a pipe cutter to remove the damaged section of pipe.
- Cut a new piece of pipe work to size and use the propane torch to solder a new joint at both ends.
- Turn the water back on and check the seal carefully to ensure there are no further leaks.
- You now know that this is weak part of your pipe system and so insulating this area is a must.
Once you feel comfortable doing this job you can regularly check all your pipework for leaks and weak spots and prevent ever having to deal with a deluge of water again.
- Also see our Preventing Frozen Pipes article in last month's magazine