How to avoid burst pipes in the cold weather
The risk of burst pipes rises dramatically when a home is left unattended for a long period in cold weather. Claims costs can top €100,000 if an entire house becomes sodden.
Adrian Hassett, GM of Property Caretakers, says: ‘A leaking pipe can spill about 2,200 gallons of water a day if left unchecked. While the cost of burst pipe claims is huge, the emotional impact and inconvenience to homeowners is far worse.’
Part of the problem is that many homeowners are not aware of how to reduce the risk of pipes bursting, or of what to do if it happens
One in six householders say they would not know where to find their stopcock in an emergency, according to Ageas. And half of the other adults in a house say they would not know how to stop the water. Tenants in rented properties are most likely to be clueless when it comes to shutting off water.
HOT TIPS: How to prevent damage
Pipes are most likely to burst in cold spells when homes are empty. If you go away:
›› Keep the central heating at a minimum 12C-15C, if it is forecast to freeze.
›› Insulate pipes in the attic and crawl spaces as these exposed pipes are the most likely to freeze. Lag your cold water tank.
›› Leave doors open on kitchen and bathroom cabinets. This will allow warmer air to circulate and reach pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls.
›› Leave the loft hatch door open as allowing warmer air to reach the loft can help prevent the cold tank from freezing.
›› Turn off the water supply to outside taps. Turn off the mains water at the stopcock unless you have a combi boiler that requires constant mains pressure.
›› If you are away for a long time over the winter, it may be worth draining your cold water system.
›› If you do return to frozen pipes, use only gentle heat, such as towels soaked in warm water, to try to thaw them.