After the worst period of burst pipes on record plagued the UK earlier this year, and with the first lot of arctic winds already sweeping across the UK – the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is reminding property owners not to get caught out by the misery of frozen and burst pipes.
The cost and inconvenience caused by a burst pipe can be considerable. Just a small rupture can release gallons of water, damaging plaster, carpets and other contents. And if that isn’t bad enough, ABI data shows that during a spell of freezing weather, a claim to repair a burst pipe cost an average £8,800 over the past year, but can often be even more.
The cold weather at the start of this year saw claims for burst pipes jump from £4m to £197m quarter-on-quarter, suggesting people are unprepared for the impact of extreme weather.
To reduce the risk of frozen pipes this winter, the ABI recommends:
· Keep your heating on at regular intervals and make sure to set it on a timer if you are going away.
· Make sure that water pipes and water tanks in the loft are insulated with good quality lagging. DIY stores and www.energysavingtrust.org.uk can provide some useful advice.
· Know where your stopcock that turns off the incoming water supply is, and test that it works. It is usually found under the kitchen sink. If you cannot locate it, ask a neighbour or seek advice from an approved plumber.
· Repair any dripping taps. This will help prevent water from freezing.
If your pipes freeze and burst, the ABI advises:
· 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.
· Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing which are near frozen pipes in case the pipes burst.
· If a pipe bursts, turn off the 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.
Laura Hughes, the ABI’s Senior Policy Adviser, General Insurance said: “The key to preventing wintry weather-related headaches is preparation. So far, we’ve had a year of weather extremes, so it’s always prudent to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
“Taking just a few simple steps now and knowing what to do if the worst happens can protect your home and help reduce the misery of frozen and burst pipes this winter.”