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How to avoid this common Christmas disaster at home…

Act now so you don't get caught out by the freezing weather this winter...

The festive season can be incredible, but let’s be honest, there are lots of things that can go wrong too. But we’re not talking about family fall outs, overindulgence, present disappointment and cooking disasters. We’re talking burst pipes. We know! It’s not glamorous and it’s not festive, but “escape of water” is the most common claim made to insurance companies. And those claims can increase this time of year as the temperature starts to drop and pipes start to freeze.

It was only last year that the cold spell caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ led to a tenfold increase in claims compared to the previous year for burst pipes caused by bad weather.

A frozen or burst pipe can be extremely inconvenient, can cause a significant amount of damage to your property and is not cheap to repair. According to our partners at APlan Insurance, the insurance industry pays out £2.5m every day to customers as a result of burst pipes.

Worryingly, however, not everyone has the option of getting an insurance payout to pick up the pieces after a burst pipe. The comparison site Finder reported that five million homes in the UK don’t have any form of home insurance while less than a fifth (19%) of home contents insurance policies and only a quarter (25%) of home buildings policies include cover for home emergencies as standard.

Check your insurance policy now

If you already have home contents insurance, give your provider a call and make sure you understand what your policy covers.

And if you don’t already have cover, or are up for renewal, get protected. Our insurance broker partners at APlan insurance have over 50 years experience of finding the best value home insurance cover that covers your needs. If you haven’t got cover, you might want to speak to them today on 08000 325935 or read more about how they can help here 

How to avoid burst pipes

There are steps consumers can take to prevent frozen pipes and minimise the damage in the unfortunate event of a burst pipe.

  1. Keep your heating on at regular intervals.
  2. Insulate water tanks and water pipes in the loft (you can buy lagging material from most DIY stores). www.energysavingtrust.org.uk provides some useful advice.
  3. If you have any dripping taps, fix them!
  4. Find your property’s stopcock or valve and make sure you can turn it off if necessary. It’s likely to be under the kitchen sink. If you cannot locate it, ask a neighbour or seek advice from an approved plumber.
  5. Make sure your boiler has been serviced.
  6. Try to minimise draughts from outside and close doors and windows, particularly in unheated parts of the property.
  7. If you have pipes in the roof area, open the loft hatch to allow warm air to circulate.
  8. When going away, make sure to set a timer. If you are away for a long time, turn off the water at the stopcock.

How to fix a burst pipe

If the worst happens and the pipe starts to leak then…

  1. Immediately turn the water mains off via the stopcock. Wait for the pipes to warm up, or you can try and thaw them with a hot water bottle.
  2. Do not attempt to dislodge the ice using a hammer or melt it with a blow touch, it is highly likely that this will cause more damage.
  3. Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, which are near frozen pipes in case the pipe bursts.

If your pipe bursts the Association of British Insurers advises:

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, to prevent further damage to property.

In both instances, contact your insurer straight away to seek advice, many insurers operate 24-hour helplines. They will advise on next steps and help to arrange professional repairs to be carried out.

If you need a plumber quick then find a local one now with Checkatrade here

But let’s hope you won’t need to put those steps into action, that everyone likes their presents and the Christmas dinner goes to plan.

Merry Christmas!

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