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Winter Insurance Tips - Avoid Frozen/Burst Pipes

January 11, 2013

Winter Insurance Tips - Avoid Frozen/Burst Pipes

he blast of Arctic air recently experienced is set to return this week and will send temperatures plunging into the minus figures again and generally highlights the danger to our elderly population, as also, householders from frozen and burst pipes.

According to one leading Insurance expert:

“Damage caused by freezing water in pipes and leaking or ‘‘escaping’’ water from tanks, pipes, or heating systems is covered as standard under most contents and buildings insurance policies. Water freezing in tanks is also usually covered under buildings insurance.”

The risk of this is at its’ highest in traditional properties without fully insulated lofts, modern up to date central heating systems or even piped that aren’t properly lagged. And when homes are empty, burst or leaking pipes are often not discovered for a while and during this time the damage can get progressively worse.

For example, if the burst pipe or damaged water tank is in the attic, water can very easily move down throughout the house, bringing down the room ceilings as it moves downwards. Those most at risk of damage from burst pipes are as I said earlier older homeowners who go away for Christmas and New Year visiting friends and family – if lucky enough.

Most home insurance policies limit cover for an unoccupied property to only 30 days whilst away. If you plan to be away from home longer, it is best you talk to your insurance company you have the policy with about extending that cover as it maybe needed.

Homeowners can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of burst pipe problems, such as keeping heating ticking over at a lower setting. But the ever increasing energy costs sometimes mean that people aren’t keeping their boilers running all the time. Even though, whilst you are away doing this could prevent the devastating consequences of a burst pipe.

How to help prevent a disaster during freezing temperatures:

-          Leave your heating on during its normal timer operation when you are away, or if affordable during the cold winter weeks.  But with the thermostat turned down to 12-15 degrees.

-          Ensure you have your boiler serviced on an annual basis if you have central heating. As this helps reduce the risk of it breaking down if you are away.

-          If you’re going away for any reason, always turn off the water supply at the stopcock. As this means if there is a burst pipe, water from the mains won’t keep pumping water out.

-          Check pipe lagging and insulation on any exposed water pipes and on your cold water tank. Ensure YOU do not insulate underneath the water tank, as any heat that comes up from the house to the water tank helps to prevent freezing.

-          Similarly, if YOU are going away and have a cold water tank in your attic, think about leaving the attic hatch open to allow warmer air from the house circulate and move into the attic. Only do this if you are able bodied enough or have a friend or relative to do this for you.

FINALLY get a qualified Plumber to:

-          Check pipes for early signs of cracks and damage can help prevent longer-term disruption.

-          Consider draining your water system and YOU should always seek professional advice when doing this.