|Statistics from Churchill Home Insurance shows that from Oct 2010 and Feb 2011 the winter caused damage to nearly 3million UK homes!|
A recurring example of situations when water pipes have frozen and burst is when homes are left empty for long periods putting heating and drainage systems under stress. Central heating pipes, tanks and shower valves are full of water which can expand as the water turns to ice causing severe damage to the property.
If large volumes of water escape, it can eventually overwhelm the floor and bring down ceilings in the downstairs rooms. Skirting boards and other woodwork can warp and plaster can in some cases require complete replacement. Carpets and furniture can also be damaged or ruined, as well as any personal possessions.
Simple ways you can protect your pipes
All pipes exposed to the cold should be protected. This includes lagging pipes and taps on external walls, in the loft, in the garage and in unheated rooms. Other ways to protect your pipes include:
- Insulating water tanks in unheated areas checking that your loft insulation is thick and in good condition, running over the pipework where possible.
- Checking that your boiler has been properly serviced.
- Minimising draughts from outside and close doors to unheated parts of your home.
- Sealing small gaps around the areas where your TV, cable or telephone lines come through your wall.
- Keeping bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors open when you can to allow warm air to circulate.
- By leaving your loft hatch door open, allowing warmer air to reach the loft preventing your water tank freezing.
- If you’re going away and the temperature’s likely to drop below freezing, keep your home’s central heating at a minimum of 15°C (59F) for a few hours each day.
- If your property is unoccupied for long periods, turn off the water at the stopcock and consider draining down the system.
- Before you start to thaw any frozen pipes, make sure you turn your water off at the inside stop valve, and any nearby cold taps are turned on. This will help relieve any pressure on the frozen pipe when the water starts to thaw.
- Protect or remove anything at risk of being damaged.
- Use a hairdryer at its lowest setting or a hot water bottle wrapped in a tea towel to slowly and gently warm along the length of the pipe starting at the end nearest to the tap. Please note this process could take several hours as warming them too quickly could cause them to burst.
- Once thawed check to make sure there are no leaks before turning the stop tap back on. Allow the water to run until normal flow is restored.
- Only turn on heating appliances if the system is working normally and there are no leaks.
- Lag your pipes to prevent your pipes freezing again.
If you are unsure about what to do, please contact a certified plumber. For further help or advice on anything discussed in this post please do not hesitate to contact us and one of our dedicated team members will be happy to be of help.