Preventing the escape of water in your home

Whenever the country has to contend with extremes in winter weather and prolonged freezing temperatures, insurers typically have to deal with a rise in claims due to burst pipes and water damage.  And when a pipe bursts thousands of gallons of water can be released into your home in no time.  Not only can it leave you feeling emotionally wrecked, but it can result in damage to your home and contents that costs tens of thousands of pounds and a great deal of time to repair and replace.

So,wherever possible, the steps you take to prevent the issue ahead of time will certainly be better than having to tackle a cure after the damage is done.  Regardless of the age of the house you live in, but especially if you live in an older property, the following tips and advice should help you limit the effect of water damage in your home.

Keep warm when it stays cool

If you are away for an extended period of time over the winter period or Christmas holidays, we advise leaving the heating on.  This prevents water from lying still and freezing in your pipes.  Ideally, you should aim to maintain a temperature of around 13°C.

Look at lagging your pipes too.  Concentrate on those situated in lofts, attics, crawl spaces, basements and fixed to external walls.  Use insulated foam sleeving to help protect the pipes from the freezing temperatures and remember that thinner pipes will require thicker insulation.  And while all new water storage tanks must be insulated, if you have an older one give it a hot water jacket to help protect it from the elements.

A regular check-up

One of the first things to tackle in terms of preventing the escape of water and burst pipes at home, is a thorough service of your current heating system.  We'd recommend an annual check up before winter to prevent breakdown during cold spells and to ensure your boiler is running effectively.  You can also use this time to check your thermostat is working properly and to ask your service engineer about the benefits of adding antifreeze to your system.

If you have a condensing boiler, make sure the pipe that takes waste away is both waterproofed and weather-proofed so that it doesn't freeze and block the flow of the system.

Know your home

And here are some more general tips that will help you prevent and respond to any pipe issues in your house:

  • Know where your stopcock is so that you can quickly shut off the supply of water in the event of an emergency.
  • Regularly check radiator valves, overflows on toilets and for leeks on water or central heating tanks.
  • Repair damaged gutters and keep them clear of leaves and debris to prevent blocked, frozen or cracked pipies.
  • Get any damp patches in your home checked by a surveyor as they could be a sign of a gradual leak within the wall.
  • Consider fitting a device such as Flood Check to detect leaks at an early stage.

If you do have any questions about the prospect of water and pipe damage to your home, speak to your local NFU Mutual Agent to make sure your insurance fully covers you for any potential issues.