Householders should act now to avoid the misery of frozen and burst pipes this winter. An average claim for burst pipe damage is between £6,500 to £7,500, but the risk of expensive, disruptive and distressing damage can easily be reduced by taking a few simple steps now, before the cold weather sets in.
Take preventative action
- If you’re going away, don’t be tempted to turn off your heating altogether; cold weather can wreak havoc on water pipes so it’s best to keep your heating on low – around 10ºC/50ºF
- If you haven’t already got one, consider having a programmable thermostat fitted; these give you complete control over your heating and usually have a holiday setting
- Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the loft are insulated with good quality lagging
- Know where your stopcock that turns of the incoming water supply is, and make sure that it works
- If you’re leaving house keys with a friend or neighbour make sure they know where your inside stop valve is and check that it is working. They will need to get to it quickly if a pipe has burst
- Insulate outside taps or turn them off at the stop tap, or drain them before you go away
- Repair any dripping taps. This will help prevent water from freezing
- Leave the loft door open to let the heat from downstairs circulate into the attic.
If your pipes freeze
- Turn water off at the main stopcock straight away and then wait for it to warm up, or you can try and thaw the pipes with a hot water bottle
- If a pipe has burst, turn off water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system
- Contact your insurance company helpline for help and advice, including arranging for professional repairs to be carried out.
Aidan Kerr from the insurance watchdog, the ABI, said: “Every winter, damage caused by burst pipes is widespread and expensive. Prevention is better than cure and a few simple steps can reduce the risk of facing the trauma of frozen or burst pipes during the winter.
"Home insurance will pay for the often costly damage caused by burst pipes, but it cannot compensate for the misery and inconvenience that they bring,” he adds.