People are being urged to use water wisely as supplies suffer huge losses from hundreds of burst pipes as the big freeze has turned into the big thaw.

Yorkshire Water took about 8,000 calls about damaged pipes yesterday and a spokesman said they were battling to fix 300 bursts of different sizes.

Engineers were working round-the-clock to repair underground pipes damaged by ground movement caused by the freeze and thaw.

More than 300 staff worked over the Christmas break to find and fix leaks, with customer services staff offering help and advice to homeowners whose pipes had frozen.

Among yesterday’s deluge of calls were about 400 from householders in Bradford. Engineers were also sent to fix 15 separate incidents of burst pipes in the district.

Yorkshire Water’s community engagement manager, Richard Sears, said: “We’re working really hard to fix these bursts as soon as possible. Our customers can help. Those that have access to a water supply can help those that don’t by using their water supplies wisely.

“The sheer volume of water being lost through bursts means that it is proving difficult to maintain pressure in the water supply system.

“This means that there is the real potential for customers to start experiencing low water pressure or lose their supplies altogether.

“The less water people use, particularly at breakfast and teatime, the quicker the system will recharge and things will return to normal for everyone.”

Councillor Ghazanfer Khaliq, Bradford Council’s executive member for environment and sustainability, urged people to follow the advice of Yorkshire Water.

He said: “Anything we can do to help would be a good thing. There are various ways to save water, whether it be when bathing, washing dishes or washing clothes.”

One house in Pudsey was flooded when a water pipe burst. Water cascaded through the ceiling and short-circuited the electricity supply at the semi-detached house in Owlcotes Road at 8pm on Tuesday.

A fire service spokesman said the burst had been caused by the thaw, and advised householders to keep their heating on while it remained cold.

Yorkshire Water appealed to homeowners, caretakers and landlords of buildings that have stood empty over the festive period to check them as soon as possible to see if they have any bursts on their internal plumbing.

Mr Sears said: “We suspect that there are lots of leaks hidden behind closed doors as businesses have shut for the Christmas period, or homeowners have gone off to visit relatives.

“We would urge people to check on their neighbours’ properties if they know they’re away to see if there are signs of a leak.

“While a lot of the problems experienced by people were as a result of problems on their own pipework, we have tried wherever possible to give them helpful advice and support.”