Take care in cold snaps

The media is already warning us that this winter will be a cold one. After mild winters in the last couple of years, it is probably overdue and we should be aware of how to protect our homes if a cold snap does hit. In particular, preventing burst water pipes that can cause so much damage as well as a great deal of stress and inconvenience.

These tips will, hopefully, help you reduce the risks:

  • Pay special attention to water tanks and pipes in unheated areas like loft spaces and garages.
  • Exposed water pipes and tanks should be adequately insulated, although any loft insulation should not extend underneath the water tank. This will allow the warmth from below to circulate and help prevent the cold water from freezing.
  • Leave the heating on constant during a severe cold snap and if you go away, even just for the night, leave the thermostat set at a minimum of 15 degrees.
  • Leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate in the loft space.
  • Turn off the domestic water supply if your home is being left for a long period.
  • If you leave your home unoccupied, even for just a day, ask a neighbour or relative to check the house regularly so that any problems can be detected and dealt with immediately.
  • Inspect your cold water tank regularly and, if it is metal, look for evidence of corrosion.
  • Know where to locate your mains shut off valve and make sure you can turn it on and off with ease. A plumber can fit a handle to make it easier to turn off and on.
  • Repair dripping taps. It’s usually just a washer that’s needed. If they freeze, the pipes can block.
  • Loud or banging noises coming from your heating can indicate that a pipe is beginning to freeze. If the heating starts to fail, turn off the boiler and call a plumber.
  • Regularly check the condition of flexible hoses to washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers.
  • Have your entire heating system checked throughout on an annual basis – not just your boiler.
  • Consider the installation of a leak prevention and detection system

What to do immediately, should you experience a burst pipe:

  • Turn off the water supply at the main stop valve.
  • Contact an approved plumbing and heating engineer for assistance
  • If you can locate the frozen pipe, use a hot water bottle or hairdryer (keeping it well away from any water) on a low heat to slowly defrost the pipe, starting from the end nearest to the tap.

If the worst should happen, A-Plan Insurance is here to help. You can call your branch, phone our out-of-hours claims line or request a callback via our website and we will deal with your home insurance claim as quickly as possible and with a minimum of fuss.