Winter is the season when most escape of water claims occur, often due to frozen pipes that burst and cause major leaks once the water thaws. The cold snap in late 2022 caught many off guard, resulting in a surge of claims. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the average cost of a winter burst-pipe claim was £9,300 in 2021. The memorable ‘Beast from the East’ snowfall in 2018 led to ten times more burst pipe claims compared to the same period in 2017. Stay prepared to avoid the financial and logistical challenges of winter water leaks.

Winter home maintenance is crucial to prevent water leaks. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of winter home maintenance, common causes of water leaks during the winter season, and provide helpful tips to prevent water leaks in your home. Stay informed and protect your home from potential water damage this winter.

Don’t let winter catch you off-guard! Protect your home from water leaks with our effective strategies for winter home maintenance.

Preventing Winter Water Leaks Whilst Away

Leaving homes vacant for extended periods can lead to frozen or burst water pipes, putting heating and drainage systems at risk. The constant presence of water in central heating pipes, tanks, and shower valves can cause severe damage when it expands as it turns to ice. This can weaken floors, cause ceilings in downstairs rooms to concave, warp skirting boards and other woodwork, and even necessitate complete plaster replacement. Take proactive measures to prevent these issues and protect your property.

What to Do If Your Water Pipes Freeze in Winter

If you find that the water inside your pipes has frozen, it’s important to take immediate action to prevent them from bursting. Follow these simple steps to gently thaw the frozen pipe:

  1. Turn off the water at the inside stop valve and open nearby cold taps to relieve pressure on the frozen pipe during thawing.
  2. Use a hairdryer on its lowest setting or a hot water bottle to slowly and gently warm the pipe. Start at the end closest to the tap. Be patient, as thawing the pipe too quickly can cause it to burst. This process may take several hours.
  3. Once the pipe is thawed, check for any leaks before turning the stop tap back on. Allow the water to run until normal flow is restored.
  4. Only turn on heating appliances if the system is working normally and there are no leaks.
  5. To prevent future freezing, insulate your water pipes by wrapping them with insulation.

By following these steps, you can effectively thaw frozen water pipes and minimise the risk of bursting, ensuring the smooth operation of your plumbing system.

Simple Home Maintenance Tasks to Prevent Water Leaks

  • 1
    Assess your water tank

    Check for any signs of water dripping, pooling, cracks, or unusual sounds to ensure your water tank is in good condition.

  • 2
    Keep it warm

    Even when you're away, maintain a low heating setting to prevent pipes from freezing. Smart heating systems like Nest or Hive offer customisable temperature settings to save energy.

  • 3
    Service the boiler

    Schedule an annual boiler service to save on repairs, reduce heating bills, and comply with warranty terms. Summer months often offer better availability and deals.

  • 4
    Lag your pipes

    Insulate water pipes with foam tubes to prevent freezing and retain heat when running through different parts of the house.

  • 5
    Water tank protection

    Leave the loft hatch door open to allow warmer air to reach the loft and prevent water tank freezing.

  • 6
    Invest in a water leak detection system

    Install a system like Waterguard that detects leaks and automatically shuts off the water supply, protecting your home and belongings.

If you do one thing make it insulating your pipes

Insulated pipes are paramount for a dry, leak-free home during winter’s chill. Insulation reduces pipe exposure to freezing temperatures, mitigating risks of ruptures and floods.

Insulating pipes is a critical preventive measure that significantly lowers risks of costly water leaks and potential flood damage throughout winter seasons.

Pipe insulation, often overlooked, is a principal step in arresting water leaks during bitter winters. By safeguarding pipes against frigid conditions, it diminishes water leaking incidents significantly.

Wrap Outdoor Pipes

Outer pipes are exposed to harsh winter conditions, putting them at high risk for freezing and bursting. To prevent these disastrous incidents, wrap outdoor pipes in insulative foam, making sure to cover them completely. This technique efficiently shields them from cold winds and freezes.

Proactively protecting your pipes from the winter chill becomes essential. Foam pipe insulation offers an effective barrier against the cold. Use self-sealing types for easiest installation—simply wrap around the pipe and secure firmly.

A water leak in winter can cause significant damage. Don’t overlook the importance of safeguarding your outdoor pipes. Winterproof them with suitable insulation, taking care to cover all exposed areas. Ensure they’re prepared to weather the cold without causing any water leaks.

Insulate Pipes in Unheated Areas

Proper insulation of water pipes in unheated areas is crucial for maintaining the health and integrity of our homes during the chilly winter months. By wrapping your pipes, you fortify them against the frosty temperatures, effectively averting costly water leakages.

Remember, the cold doesn’t differentiate between an actively heated room and an unused loft when it comes to freezing your pipes. Insulating unheated spaces is, therefore, a straightforward yet crucial measure to protect your home from potential water damage during harsh winter nights.

Monitor Water Pressure

Don’t underestimate the impact of water pressure on your plumbing system. A leak prevention guide always hinges on understanding and regularly monitoring your home’s water pressure, averting potential leaks and costly damage.

Regular inspection of your home’s water pressure is a non-negotiable part of leak prevention. Taking measures to monitor and regulate water pressure is a key step towards safeguarding your home from disruptive and expensive water leaks.

Protect Exterior Taps and Sprinkler Systems

Guarding your taps and sprinklers is pivotal to bolster your home’s exterior against water leaks this winter. A simple yet effective strategy is to shut off and drain and stow garden hoses, and turn off outdoor taps. Winterising your sprinkler system too can cap potential leak sources.

Prevention always prevails over cure. A sturdy shield for exterior taps and sprinkler systems can be remarkably effective to thwart cold-weather damage. Using a tap cover can form a formidable protective layer and help maintain the integrity of your water systems throughout the biting winter.

Check the Water Heater

Inspecting your water heater is an essential step in winter home maintenance. This proactive measure can unearth potential leaks and rust areas, allowing you to address these issues before they escalate.

Regular checkups of your water heater can thwart unexpected leaks, which often escalate in winter due to cold conditions. This preventive step contributes to a worry-free winter, minimising the chances of costly repairs down the road.

An optimally set water heater temperature is the unsung hero of leak prevention strategies. It’s not flashy or particularly fun, but it delivers tangible, substantial results. It reduces pressure, conserves energy, and ensures longevity. Make the temperature adjustment part of your winter routine and reap the benefits of a leak-free home.

We hope we’ve provided some useful tips for protecting your home in time for winter. To discuss our water leak detection systems with a qualified advisor, please call the Waterguard team on 01226 244200 or use the contact form below and someone will be in touch to advise the best water leak detection system based on your property and water usage.

We take water seriously! Not only do our systems protect from the catastrophic affects of leaking and burst pipes, by installing a Waterguard residential system into your household, you can conserve water and contribute towards a more sustainable future while also potentially saving money on your water bills.