Burst pipe incidents soar across the UK – what to do to avoid it happening to you

Knowing how to correctly thaw a frozen pipe can save you the hassle later down the line

Boiler in cupboard
(Image credit: Future PLC / Anna Stathaki)

Households across the UK are experiencing burst pipes as temperatures rise again following the cold weather warning. If you have a frozen pipe, it pays to know how to correctly thaw it to avoid the further onset of maintenance issues in the run-up to Christmas.

A majority of areas around the UK, with a focus on the South East, North West, and Scotland have been experiencing a huge rise in burst water pipes as temperatures fluctuate from below zero to up to 15 degrees celsius today. The 19th of December has now been dubbed as 'Burst Pipe Monday' following these reported incidents.

Recent research from Toolstation has revealed that 47% of households have never even checked their pipes to see if they are frozen. For those who do check and come to the unwelcome discovery of a frozen pipe, 34% have considered using a hot water bottle. In comparison, 28% would consider using a hair dryer to thaw the affected pipe – however, what should you actually do in the event of a frozen pipe?

radiator in white room with plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

How to thaw frozen pipes

If you've discovered the unwelcome surprise of a frozen pipe, don't panic, as there are simple ways to solve the problem so you can save money at home by dodging the need to call in for professional help.

1. Locate the frozen pipe

Finding a frozen blockage in your pipe is easier than you may think. If you have a modern condensing boiler, it'll likely be your condensate pipe. British Gas say that is the plastic one that comes out of your boiler. Find where this goes outside to see where it's frosted over.

To locate a blockage, Daniel Dwyer, heating expert at Village Heating says to 'simply feel along the pipe until you find a section that is colder than other areas.'

 'It may be the case that you have multiple blockages, so make sure to check the entire pipe, and don’t stop when you find the first blockage.' Before inspecting, you should know how to locate your stop tap.

Boiler in cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

2. Open the faucet

David Cruz, plumbing expert at Myjobquote.co.uk advises opening the pipe's faucet prior to the thawing process. 'Open both the hot and cold taps. This will relieve some of the pressure in the system and allow water to escape properly when you thaw the pipe.'

Sink with black taps and white metro tiled splashback

(Image credit: Future PLC)

3. Thaw the pipe

The next step is to thaw the pipe. British Gas advise to '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.'

Daniel Dwyer at Village Heating also approves the use of a hairdryer in the thawing process if you'd prefer. 'Be sure to take great care when doing it, as the expansion of water during thawing can cause the pipe to crack or burst,' he warns. 'Low heat and slowly is the way to go.'

Hallway with radiator under window

(Image credit: Future PLC)

And there you have it. By following these simple steps when thawing a frozen pipe, you can better avoid having to deal with a burst pipe amidst fluctuating temperatures.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is a Junior Writer at Ideal Home. She's always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham where her love for journalism blossomed following her internship at ArchDaily. Now focused on home tech, Jullia works on writing features and explainers to help people make the most of their home appliance investments. When she isn't writing, she loves exploring the city, coffee shop hopping, and losing hours to a cosy game.