As temperatures drop across the country, the ABI (Association of British Insurers) cautions households to prepare for frozen and burst pipes to avoid expense and disruption. In 2022 alone, insurers paid approximately £804 million for issues caused by burst pipes in UK homes. Damage from even a small pipe rupture can cost tens of thousands of pounds and wreak havoc.
Louise Clark, General Insurance Policy Advisor at the ABI, warns, “As the cold snap bites and temperatures plummet, taking a few simple measures can reduce the disruption, distress and expense caused by frozen or burst pipes this winter, while keeping your heating bills as manageable as possible."
Here are some tips from the ABI to avoid frozen pipes:
Insulate exposed water pipes and tanks. Weatherproof doors and windows since a warm home is less susceptible. Smart thermostats have anti-frost settings; otherwise, set radiators to the snowflake symbol allowing water to flow between pipes and radiators.
Know the location of your stopcock and ensure it's in working order. It's usually under the kitchen sink. Ask a plumber if unsure. Consider shutting off the stopcock if leaving home for extended periods.
Repair any dripping taps which could freeze in cold weather.
If pipes freeze, immediately turn off the water mains via the stopcock. Thaw pipes with a hot water bottle; don't attempt to melt ice with a blowtorch or hammer. Move nearby furniture or possessions in case pipes burst.
Should pipes burst, stop water at the stopcock and shut off all water heating systems. Open taps to drain the system and move possessions to prevent damage. Contact insurers as soon as possible for professional repairs. Insurers often operate 24-hour claims hotlines.
If leaving homes vacant for over 30 days, check home insurance policies for restrictions. Some policies require certain steps to maintain cover.
While open fires or candles may minimise heating bills, they significantly raise fire risk. Chimneys and flues unused for long periods should be cleaned and inspected by specialists beforehand. Contact local fire brigades for safe home heating advice.
Prepare homes now before cold weather sets in to prevent burst pipes.