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Preventing Frozen Pipes

The cold weather is coming and all those little niggly jobs around the house need to be done in preparation. In the same way you might think about putting the anti-freeze in your car, now is also a good time to think about preventing your central heating and water pipes from freezing. It doesn't happen often these days, but even a short period of time without the heating on can cause the pipes to get cold enough to freeze.

The results of frozen pipes are not worth thinking about. It often happens when people are away on holiday when they have turned their heating off. This means that water can be continuously running from the broken pipe for hours or even days. This can result in ruined floors, ceilings and furniture. The problem is caused by water in the pipes freezing. This causes the water to expand and put pressure on the pipes and joints. The can result in cracks and splits in the pipework.

Insurance companies have reported £40 million in claims during the first quarter of 2009 and are expecting this to increase in the coming months. The average amount of damage is £1200 according to one insurer, a significant amount to have to pay if you do not have insurance.

It is fairly simple to prevent frozen pipes in the winter months and just a little bit of forethought could prevent a a disaster which could cast a huge shadow over the festive period.

  • Be aware of the location of your stopcock and check it is easy to turn off every now and then.
  • Keep your heating ticking over on a low setting, especially when you are away.
  • Insulate pipes around particularly cold spots, taking extra care near joints and corners.
  • Leave a key with neighbours and ask them to check your house regularly.
  • Draining your system might be the best idea if you are going to be away for a long period of time. You can do this by turning off the water and running the taps until the tank runs dry.
  • Have a plumber check your central heating system regularly.
  • Check your insurance is up to date and note that some insurers may not pay out if the water escape is down to wear and tear.

If the worst should happen, turn off all the water and call your insurer. They will be able to arrange a plumber to come and fix the problem and also will send an assessor to work out how much money you will receive to fix any damage. Obviously prevention is better than cure, so follow the advice above and you should avoid any major water damage.