Winter Tips

After 2010’s devastating winter we can see over a third (34%) of insurance property claims costs are for damage caused by the escape of water, the most common being for the effects of a burst pipe. Insurance payouts increased by 21.2% in 2009 to £908m*.  As many as 2 million homes** may have been affected in some way by the cold weather last year. England, Scotland and Wales:

Remember last year’s big freeze? Don’t get caught out this winter!
With our help, we want to reduce the number of customers that are caught out by the ravaging effects of an escape of water within the home or business as we approach the winter. Our simple guides can help our customers reduce the likelihood of water damage occurring, and, of course, the significant costs associated with these incidents.

Our recent survey of householders showed that many people didn’t know how to switch off their water supply in an emergency
* Source: Datamonitor report: UK Household Insurance 2010
** Source: 8% of householders said that their household was affected by last year’s cold weather, therefore 2,008,000 estimated households from approximately 25.1 million combined

Last winter, homes the length and breadth of the country were affected by the prolonged big freeze. This year, take some simple steps to help protect your home from the ravages of the winter weather

There is no doubt about it, an escape of water can devastate a home - whether you are insured or not. In fact, damage caused by water leaking inside a home is among the most frequent reasons for home insurance claims - especially around this time of year. Freezing temperatures can mean freezing pipes and, should they burst, you’ll have very little time to stop the damage caused. Yet, most leaks are avoidable. You can reduce the heartache, damage to your possessions and costly disruption that the cold and freezing weather can have on your home by following the simple checks and advice below. You’ll be one step nearer to avoiding getting caught out this winter.

Freezing temperatures can mean freezing pipes and, should they burst, you’ll have very little time to stop the damage caused.

Leaving your home unattended at all this winter?
Turn the main stopcock off but keep your heating system on as though your home is occupied, just turn down the thermostat to around 15ºc. This will ensure that in the event of freezing conditions the heating will come on low and stop the water trapped in your pipes from freezing and bursting the pipes which could cause a major flood when the temperature rises again.

If you are going to be away for an extended period you might want to consider draining down your plumbing and heating system, but do so with professional advice. Make sure pipes and the loft, if you have one, are insulated. This will help stop pipes freezing and bursting and will help prevent joints from leaking. Have someone keep an eye on your home and look out for leaks. Let them know where the stopcock is in case they have to turn off the mains water supply in a hurry.

What to keep an eye out for all year round.
Inspect plumbing joints from time to time. If you have copper pipes and you see a build up of green colouring on joints it might be a tell tale sign of a leak. Also check plumbing joints which are hidden from view such as on washing machines and dishwashers.

If you have plastic plumbing joints then remember that they will probably degrade sooner than metal ones, so keep an eye out for even the slightest hint of water.

Insulate header and water tanks and check ball valves for signs of wear. Insulate your loft to protect pipes and in severe cold  weather open the loft hatch to warm the void. Do not insulate under the water tank, this allows heat from the house to help keep the tank from freezing. Make sure you know where the stopcock is so you can turn off the mains water where it enters the building. Test it every so often so it won’t be too stiff to turn when you need to turn it off in an emergency.

What to do if you discover a sudden leak?
Turn off the water at the stopcock. Put plugs in to the bath and sinks to capture the water and open the taps to drain down the  system - making sure the bath and sinks don’t overflow. The water you capture will give you a temporary supply while you await help. Call your broker or insurance company and arrange professional help. Speak to your broker to find out how this applies to your policy and for more information on the level of insurance cover you have in place and the terms and conditions of your policy.

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