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