Escape of water biggest cause of insurance claimsWednesday 10 December 2014
• Escape of water claims cost £730 million each year* • Saga Home Insurance gives pipe protection tips
Escape of water biggest cause of insurance claims
With December set to herald a significant drop in temperature, there is a real risk that homeowners could experience water in one or more pipes freezing over the next few weeks – especially if they are planning to leave homes empty for a break during the festive period.
If a pipe freezes, it can expand and burst. If water escapes, it can then cause serious damage to property, including flooding and broken boilers. Saga Home Insurance reports that, "escape of water" makes up one in every five claims at this time of year, costing on average £4,000 to repair, however when open pipes are involved that aren't concealed behind brickwork for example the average cost of repair can be much higher, so homeowners need to be on their guard.
The good news is there are some simple steps people can take to reduce the risk of pipes wreaking havoc this winter should we experience a big freeze.
1. Keep your heating on
A good way to protect your pipes during the colder months is by keeping your heating on constant, but at a lower-than-normal temperature.
2. Check insulation
Make sure insulation is in place on water pipes, and also in your loft and other areas of water storage, such as a water tank. The more insulated your pipes are, the better protected they will be.
3. Repair dripping taps
Repair dripping taps and replace washers where needed. If you don’t do this and the tap freezes, it may block the pipe and cause damage.
4. Leave cabinet doors open
Keep the doors on kitchen and bathroom cabinets open, as this will allow warmer air to circulate and reach pipes that are under sinks and next to the outside wall.
5. Thaw out frozen pipes
If a pipe has frozen, thaw it out gently using hot water bottles or a hairdryer.
6. Leave the heating on low while you’re away
If you’re heading off on holiday over Christmas or New Year, keep the heating on at a low temperature (around 12°C-15°C). Also keep your loft hatch open slightly to let the warmer air circulate, as this can prevent the pipes in your loft from freezing.
7. What should you do if you discover your pipes have burst?
If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, first check if your neighbours have water, as it could be an issue with the local supply.
If they do have water, you need to take action. First, turn off the stop-cock, and then call in a plumber to help you fix the problem with your pipes.
Sue Green, head of Saga Home Insurance, said: “A sudden escape of water can put the dampener on your Christmas, water damage can cost a great deal to put right, particularly if it damages kitchens or bathroom appliances or furniture. It is important that people check they have relevant insurance cover should a pipe burst and that they know who to call in an emergency to put right the damage.”
Saga Home Insurance offers cover as standard for damage caused by an escape of water including as a result of a burst pipe. Saga Home Emergency can help you out in the event of a burst pipe by sending out skilled tradespeople to stop the leak and prevent further damage from occurring.
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