Did you know insurers pay out around £1.8 million every day to customers who make ‘escape of water’ claims on their homes according to the Association of British Insurers. Although the long-term trend has been for milder winters, after a spell of damaging winter storms we are seeing an increased number of burst pipe claims. Not all of these occur during the winter months and they can relate to failure of pipe joints in heating, baths, showers or kitchen appliances; but burst pipes most often occur when a house does not benefit from modern methods of construction and insulation regulations. There are some simple steps you can take to help you avoid these unpleasant experiences.
Make sure you are prepared for the arrival of cold weather by following these simple steps:
- Ensure that exposed water pipes and tanks in the loft are properly insulated. Do not insulate underneath water tanks in order that warmth from below can help to prevent the water from freezing.
- Know where your main stop valve is located and make sure you can turn it on and off with ease. It’s a good idea to label it so that all the household are aware of its location in an emergency.
- A constantly dripping overflow pipe is a sure sign that your system requires some maintenance, so keep a sharp eye out.
- If, during freezing conditions, the heating fails, or makes loud banging noises, this could indicate that a pipe is freezing. Turn off the boiler and call a plumber immediately or, if you have Home Emergency cover under your household insurance policy or as a stand-alone policy, call the 24-hour Home Emergency Helpline number
- Consider the installation of a leak prevention and detection system
When you leave your home unoccupied
- If you plan on going away, for no matter how short a period, leave your heating on– constantly if a cold spell is predicted. Also, check if any unoccupancy condition will apply to your insurance policy.
- Isolate the domestic water supply if your home is to be left for a long period.
- Leave the loft hatch open to allow for warm air to circulate into the loft space
Follow these simple steps should you experience a burst pipe:
- Turnoff the water supply at the main stop valve
- Contact an approved plumbing and heating engineer for assistance – or if you have Home Emergency cover under your household insurance, or as a stand-alone policy, call the 24-hour Home Emergency Helpline number for assistance.
If you locate a frozen pipe, never use a naked flame to thaw it out. A hot water bottle or a hair dryer on low heat will assist in achieving a gradual defrost and remember to start from the end nearest to the tap.