By Ben Simmons
With the icy blast continuing to sweep across Britain, Aviva is advising business owners to carry out some simple home checks to prevent freezing and burst pipes drenching their premises.
Just one burst pipe in the loft can mean water gushing through your property ruining furnishings and belongings along the way and in some cases bringing whole ceilings down — the average cost of damage is around £8,000.
This can mean months of disruption while their property is dried out and repaired. And if homes are left empty at holiday time, leaks often aren't discovered for many days and so damage can get progressively worse.
Carole Gallagher, head of household claims, at Aviva says: “With the relatively mild start to the winter it’s easy to forget how quickly temperatures can plummet and many are caught out by the arctic temperatures we are currently experiencing.
“Freezing and burst pipes can be a real problem - in some cases ruining entire floors of your home. The risk can be worse in traditional properties without modern heating systems or properly insulated pipes.
"And when homes are left empty, burst or leaking pipes often aren't discovered for many days and so damage can get progressively worse so think about asking a friend or neighbour to pop in and check your home if you are escaping the cold for a half-term break in the sun.”
But simple precautions can prevent a potential disaster:
If you can keep heating on a constant low temperature — especially if you are planning a weekend away. This means that water in pipes or tanks should never get cold enough to freeze and then burst.
If you are going away for half-term get someone to check on your home, if a problem is spotted early the damage could be much less.
Make sure any loft hatches are open so that warm air from the rest of your house can circulate into the roof space.
Know where your stop cock is - it is generally found underneath your kitchen sink. There should also be an access point for a stop cock outside your home (normally near your driveway).
Lots of lagging - one of the main causes of freezing pipes is a lack of lagging - so anyone attempting to do a bit of plumbing themselves, should bear in mind that pipes and tanks in the loft, or anywhere else liable to freeze, need to be properly lagged.
Insulate on top of pipes rather than underneath them, as insulation laid below the pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them. Wrap up water tanks and cisterns in insulating jackets.
If the worst happens
If you do suffer a burst pipe turn off the water mains stop cock immediately to ensure no more water is flowing into your home.
Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations to avoid further damage.
If you have a burst tank, turn on all taps to drain the system, this will reduce the escape of water and damage to your property.
Call a professional tradesman immediately to repair the burst pipe.
Call your insurer as soon as you can to register a claim.
Damage caused by freezing water and leaking or "escaping" water from tanks, pipes, or heating systems is covered as standard under Aviva’s contents and buildings insurance policies. Damage to the pipe itself, caused by freeze, is also covered under Aviva’s buildings insurance.