When pipes leak
Place a dish or bowl underneath the leak. Pull back any carpets and lay down newspapers or towels to absorb any dampness.
When pipes burst
Turn off the water at the main stop tap, and switch off any water heaters. Open all taps to drain water from the system.
Can it be isolated?
Some items of equipment may have their own isolation valve (either a gate valve, or service valve). If not, you may be able to isolate the fault by just turning off a gate valve on a pipe coming out of the cold water tank. This will leave you with some services, even though it may be cold water at the kitchen tap. You could then temporarily flush toilets using a bucket of cold water.
If electrical fittings get wet, do not touch and turn off the electricity at the meter.
When ceilings bulge
To prevent the ceiling falling down, place a bucket under the bulge and pierce a small hole to let the water through.
Turn off the water at the main stop tap and open the cold taps. It is best to leave the pipes frozen, but you may try to thaw the pipe using hot water bottles or a hairdryer. Take great care and do not use a blow lamp. Take care to thaw from one end of the frozen section and not from the middle. Conserve hot water until the pipes are thawed. Read more about this here.
Know where your main stop tap is and check that it turns easily and is able to shut off the water supply. It is usually where the water pipe enters the house or near the kitchen sink. Get to know where the gas valves for the hot and cold water tanks are. If you go away for a few days in winter, lower the setting on your central heating room thermostat but leave the heating on. Read our page on how to Prevent Bursts & Leaks.