How to stop your pipes freezing and bursting in cold winter weather

Frozen pipes can burst in cold weather – causing cost, stress and damage. But you can avoid the trouble and expense by protecting your pipes from the cold. Lagging your pipes is cheap, easy and could save you from dealing with a burst in your home!

Why do pipes burst?

If your pipes get too cold they can freeze and water may stop flowing through them. However, the inconvenience isn't your only worry. Water expands when it freezes. If it has nowhere to go, it pushes against the sides of your pipes and can cause them to crack and burst. You might now know straight away. But when the ice melts, water will leak from the burst and could damage your home or possessions.

Repairing a burst and replacing any damaged furniture, decorations or belongings can be costly. Fortunately, protecting your pipes from freezing is not. You just need to wrap them in a cheap, foam tubing called lagging. Prevention certainly is better than cure!

How to lag your pipes – step-by-step

Lagging your pipes is easy and requires no special DIY tools. Learn how to lag your pipes in Plumber Paul’s short step-by-step video (1:17):


What you will need:
  • A tape measure
  • A pen and paper
  • Lagging (a.k.a. pipe insulation)
  • A craft knife
  • Duct tape
  1. Use a tape measure to measure the length of the pipes you want to lag. Check the width of your pipes too. Jot down these measurements so you know how much lagging you’ll need and what diameter to choose. (Remember to include the pipes in the coldest areas of your property in your measurements – for example, those in your loft and outside.)
  2. Visit a DIY store or plumbing merchant to buy your lagging. They’ll be able to advise the best type of lagging based on the age of your property too.
  3. Turn off your heating and hot water and leave your pipes to cool.
  4. Use a craft knife to cut your lagging into sections to match the length of the pipes you want to lag.
  5. If your lagging is not already semi-split, use a knife to split one side along the length of the tube so the pipe can be inserted into the opening.
  6. Open the split and push your pipe into the gap so it is wrapped inside the lagging. Squeeze it shut as you go for a snug fit.
  7. Every 30cm or so, use duct tape to seal the tubing along the areas you have already lagged. Some lagging has tape affixed alongside the opening which you can seal as you go.
  8. If you reach a join or bend in the pipe, cut along the width of the lagging to allow it to bend and follow the pipe. Seal any joins with duct tape for a secure fit.
  9. Turn your heating and hot water back on to keep your home toasty in the cold weather!

More ways to winter-ready your home

As the weather gets colder, find out more ways to prepare your home for winter.

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