Burst water pipes can cause £1000s worth of damage to your home. Here's what to do if it happens to you.

1. Shut off the water

If you have a burst pipe, the first thing you need to do is turn off the water at the mains by shutting off the main stopcock. This will stop the flow of water into the house and prevent any more coming into the pipes.

If the flow of water continues, drain the cold water in the system by flushing the toilet several times and running all the cold taps until the flow dries up.

If any electrical sockets are affected, turn off the main electrical supply immediately.

2. Contact your insurer

If your home is damaged by the water, contact us as soon as possible. Home Insurance from John Lewis Finance offers round-the-clock support for domestic emergencies like burst pipes. If you have Home Emergency included in your policy, our 24-hour helpline could find someone to help you, with up to £1,500 labour and parts included (with Premier Cover). Check your Policy Schedule to see if you have Home Emergency included.

3. Contact a plumbing professional

Once you've stopped the flow of water, contact a reputable professional plumber (or get one through your insurer) to assess the damage and make immediate repairs.

If water has reached power sockets, call out a certified electrician. Don't use any appliances which have come into contact with the water.

If you want to claim on your home insurance for any damage, be sure to contact us before you arrange for a plumber and/or an electrician to visit. If your insurance policy includes a home emergency service, we may be able to contact a reputable professional plumber or electrician for you.

4. Document the damage

Check exactly what you need to do to make a claim. This could include photographing damage and keeping receipts for replacement items.

We will either give you the nod to start making repairs, for which you should keep receipts, or we’ll arrange for a loss adjuster to come and examine the damage in person.

The loss adjuster will then inform us on the extent of the damage and we can get on with settling your claim.

5. Putting things right

Getting your home back to normal after damage from a burst pipe can take time.

Cleaning and drying out: some cleaning is likely to be needed and the affected areas could take between 4-8 weeks to dry out or maybe more in difficult cases. To speed up the drying process, give walls, floors and furniture enough space for air to circulate.

Stripping out: furniture and fixtures which have been damaged will need to be stripped out and damaged plaster removed.

Repairs: it may be some time before your house has dried out enough for you to start cosmetic repairs. Walls need to dry fully before they can be replastered and redecorated.

Don't forget: you should avoid throwing damaged items away immediately, as they’re used to help validate the insurance claim.

Preventative measures

Water freezing and expanding in the pipes is by far the most common cause of burst pipes.

If you’re going away and the temperature’s likely to drop below freezing, keep your home’s central heating at a minimum of 15°C (59F) for a few hours each day.

Consider completely draining your system if you're going to be away for a long time over the winter.

Lagging your loft, cold water storage tank and water pipes can also reduce the risk of freezing.

Leaving your loft hatch open and allowing warmer air to reach the loft can be enough to prevent the temperature from getting critically low.


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John Lewis Finance and John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (Registered Company Number 233462). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

John Lewis plc is an appointed representative (Financial Conduct Authority number 416011) of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Home Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323).

John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. John Lewis plc is an appointed representative (Financial Services Register No. 416011) of Covea Insurance plc. John Lewis Specialist Home Insurance is underwritten by Covea Insurance plc. Registered in England and Wales No. 613259. Registered office Norman Place, Reading, RG1 8DA. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202277).

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