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What to do if... a pipe bursts in your home

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

First steps

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 .

Contact your insurer

If your home is damaged by the water, contact your insurer as soon as possible. Some insurers have a 24 hour home emergency helpline that you can call for advice in an emergency.

John Lewis Home Insurance policies offer round-the-clock support for domestic emergencies like burst pipes. If you have Home Emergency included in your policy, our 24 hour helplines could find someone to help you, with up to £1,500 labour and parts included.* Check your Policy Schedule to see if you have Home Emergency included.

Important note

When you talk to your insurer, check what you'll need to support your claim, such as photographs of damage or receipts for plumbing repairs or decorating.

What happens next?

Once you've stopped the flow of water, contact a reputable professional plumber (or get one through your insurance company) 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 the insurer before you arrange for a plumber and/or an electrician to visit. If your insurance policy offers a home emergency service, the insurer may be able to contact a reputable professional plumber or electrician for you.


As mentioned above it’s very important to check with your insurer exactly what you need to do to make a claim. This could include photographing damage and keeping receipts for replacement items.

Your insurer will either give you the go-ahead to make repairs, for which you should keep receipts, or will arrange for a loss adjuster to come and examine the damage in person.

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

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 several weeks to dry out. 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.

How John Lewis Insurance can help

John Lewis Home Insurance covers your home and its contents if they're damaged by water from a burst pipe or water storage tank.

Find more about our Home Insurance cover options now.

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John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative 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). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

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