don’t be a real drip - act to stop leaks

The Wharf - - PROPERTY -

You’re ly­ing in bed, fast asleep. Then sud­denly, there’s a drip, drip, drip on your fore­head. It’s not a bad dream but a night­mare burst pipe. It could be worse – the drip could turn into a cas­cade.

It might be mild where you live at the mo­ment, but freez­ing weather warn­ings are start­ing to mount up on fore­casts.

Hal­i­fax Home In­sur­ance says last March’s Beast from the East caused a near dou­bling in frozen and burst pipes. It dealt with 1,536 claims that month.

Adding in other in­sur­ers plus those who didn’t or couldn’t claim gives a six fig­ure num­ber – equal to a medium-size town.

Homes are now con­structed to higher stan­dards with bet­ter in­su­la­tion. How­ever, mil­lions of older prop­er­ties re­main risky, while even the new­est places still need care.

As Tim Downes, Se­nior Claims Man­ager at Hal­i­fax Home In­sur­ance, puts it: “A burst pipe can be ex­tremely stress­ful – es­pe­cially if it hap­pens at night or at the week­end, when it’s tougher track­ing down an emer­gency plumber. But pre­ven­tion is def­i­nitely bet­ter than cure.”

First, un­der­stand your wa­ter sys­tem be­fore any prob­lems crop up. Find out where the mains wa­ter tap is so you can shut it down should there be a leak. If it’s hard to turn, try an oil spray fol­lowed by mus­cle power. It should be an­ti­clock­wise.

Then look for the weak­est link – in many homes, the cold wa­ter tank in an un­heated loft. Your pipes and tank should be pro­tected with foam or other in­su­la­tion ma­te­rial. It’s a cheap job.

Elec­tric heaters which you can leave on con­stantly un­til the weather im­proves in spring are on sale at DIY stores. Yes, they cost to run but that’s cheaper and less stress­ful than deal­ing with “wa­ter es­cape”.

Keep­ing the cen­tral heat­ing on all night dur­ing cold weather can also help – pro­vided any loft hatch is left open – money spent here is worth­while if it pre­vents dam­age.

Lofts of­ten con­tain elec­tri­cal wiring – if you can, turn off up­stairs light­ing at the mains as that’s the most likely cir­cuit to be af­fected af­ter a leak.

Other po­ten­tial prob­lem ar­eas in­clude base­ments, garages, and out­houses. Alex Neill of Which?

Have the num­ber of an emer­gency plumber to hand in case of leaks

Con­sider leav­ing cen­tral heat­ing on overnight in freez­ing weather to avoid dam­age to pipes

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