PersonalNovember 12, 2014

Protect your pipes and your property

Cold weather isn’t just an inconvenience. It can cause real problems too. A burst pipe can cause serious damage to the structure of your home and to electrical wiring, — not to mention damage to contents like carpets and electrical equipment. With some very cold spells in recent winters, many more pipes have been freezing and bursting, so here are a few simple tips to protect your home from the effects of the cold.


Preventing burst pipes

Inspect your pipes every autumn, looking for moisture around the joints, or any discolouration of the pipes or surrounding walls or floors. If you haven’t already, also check the pipes in your loft and outside the house and make sure they’re properly lagged to stop them freezing. While you’re in the loft, check your cold water tank too.

To keep your pipes in good condition and minimise any problems, lubricate stopcocks and valves with thin oil. Then turn them on and off to make sure they don’t seize up, and fix any dripping taps — especially important if you’re on a water meter.

Make sure you know where the stopcock is so you can turn the water off quickly in an emergency. In most homes it’s under the kitchen sink, below the stairs or in the basement.

If you’re going away for a while, leave your heating on at a low level on a timer so that water in the pipes shouldn’t get cold enough to freeze. Also remember to remove the hatch to your loft to let warm air circulate.


What to do when a pipe does burst

If you discover a burst pipe, turn the water off at the main stopcock straightaway to minimise the damage. Then switch off the central heating and any other water heating installations to avoid any further damage and open all the taps to drain the system.

If it’s very cold, a pipe might have burst without you knowing until it’s too late. A telltale sign that pipes are frozen — and or have burst is if taps aren’t working, showers aren’t running and there are problems with the heating.

If you find a pipe that you think might be frozen, open the tap nearest to the potentially frozen part, so the water can flow through when it’s melted. Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle or hairdryer (making sure to keep it well away from any water).

If water leaks near the electrics or electrical appliances, switch off the mains immediately. If they’re wet, don’t touch them. And, most importantly, if there is any damage, call your insurer as soon as you can.


Source: AVIVA ‘Stay safe this season – Winter’