Welcome winter, we’d wondered where you were

dad and child in snow

We’ve had a good run with the weather over the last few months and it really seemed like we were getting away scot free from the icy mornings and cold evenings. As this cold spell sets in, don’t forget the basics for your home. Frozen pipes can cause some serious issues, so here’s how to avoid leaks and water damage to your ceilings, walls and carpets.

What happens?
When the water in the pipes freezes, the pressure build-up between the ice blockage and the closed tap at the end of a pipe leads to them bursting at their weakest point. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather. This is usually where there are holes in your homes outside walls for television, cable or telephone lines that allow cold air to reach these pipes.

How to protect your home?

  • Find out where the mains water stopcock is, and make sure it turns off easily
  • Review your Home Insurance policy to make sure you have sufficient coverage in the event that your pipes burst
  • Make sure your home is heated for a part of each day and night to ensure that water in pipes do not become frozen
  • Open the attic door to allow heat to circulate into the attic
  • Ensure there is no insulation under your water storage tank in your attic. If there is, remove it, so as to allow heat from the house to circulate
  • Ensure the pipes in your attic and external pipes are properly lagged. The more insulation the better
  • Ensure that cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes are sealed with caulking
  • In your kitchen and bathrooms, keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes
  • Always allow for a slow trickle of water to flow through your taps and out the drain hole. This prevents your pipes from freezing over. Please pay particular attention to this if your house will be unattended during cold periods
  • If you plan to be away overnight, ensure that the heating is on for a part of the evening or night and leave the attic door open to allow heat to circulate in the space
  • If you own a holiday home please remember to turn off the water supply at the mains and drain down the entire cold water and heating system
  • If your pipes do freeze, turn the water off and thaw them out slowly with hot water bottles
  • Report any property damage to your insurance company immediately and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage

When it comes to having to claim through your home insurance, here are our top tips:

  • If there is minor damage to your home you may arrange for the damage to be repaired once you have notified your insurance company –take photos and retain all receipts
  • For more serious damage, report any property damage to your insurance company immediately and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
  • Remove potted plants, books, shoes, paper goods, fabrics and other items which may stain wet carpet.
  • Avoid disposal of items which are part of your claim until your insurance company has given authorisation to do so. These items must be kept for inspection and valuation.
  • If it is possible that any wiring may have been damaged by water, the electricity should be disconnected from the main supply.
  • Never attempt to wipe or wash walls, ceilings, or other absorbent surfaces.
  • Water from dishwashers, washing machines, toilet overflows or external flood sources has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness as it contains a significant level of contamination.

It’s also important to check that your home insurance policy covers damage like this, you can discover this by reading your policy documents. If you’d like to get a new home insurance quote, feel free to give us a call on 028 9044 5040. You can also take a policy out online here, whichever suits you.

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