How to avoid internal water damage

Flooding as the result of a prolonged period of heavy rain is something that homeowners can’t prevent – they can only make sure they are prepared. Internal flooding is a different issue so make sure you don’t suffer from a burst pipes this winter by following our simple tips..

The cost and inconvenience caused by a burst pipe can be considerable. Just a small fracture can release gallons of water, damaging masonry and plaster, carpets and other contents.

To reduce the chances of having to make a claim follow these few simple steps:

  1. Make sure your boiler and heating system is serviced regularly and check that the thermostat is working correctly
  2. If during freezing conditions your heating fails, this could indicate that a pipe is freezing. Turn off the boiler and call a plumber immediately. If you have Home Emergency cover under your policy, call the 24 hour Home Emergency helpline on 0844 826 1786
  3. Make sure that dripping taps are fixed and check dripping overflow pipes, these can indicate a problem in the system
  4. Check the insulation you have on your water pipes and cold water tank. Those in the loft or other vulnerable spaces should be lagged or similarly protected
  5. Consider leaving loft hatches slightly open to allow warmer air to enter any loft space housing water pipes and leave internal doors open to allow warm air to circulate throughout the house
  6. Make sure any external taps are turned off and disconnect any hoses
  7. In severe freezing temperatures, your heating should be kept on constantly
  8. Make sure you know where to turn off the water supply and ensure it can be easily accessed. It’s a good idea to test your stop valve regularly and label it so that all the household are fully aware of its location in an emergency situation
  9. Should your main heating system fail during the winter, you could use an electric convector or fan-assisted heaters with thermo static cut-outs that operate in the event of over-heating as a temporary measure.
  10. Portable heaters should be sited well clear of combustible materials and, where possible, protected against the possibility of being knocked over or moved accidentally by fitting guards.
  11. Temporary heaters shouldn’t be left unattended for long periods or used when the building is unoccupied, and should never be moved when switched on.
  12. Electric heaters and paraffin/oil fired heaters should never be used, even as a temporary measure.
  13. If you discover a frozen pipe, don’t wait for it to burst. Turn off your water supply and then slowly thaw the affected pipe by introducing gentle heat to the area, such as with a hairdryer, space heater or hot water bottle. Don’t attempt to thaw the pipe with a blow torch or other open flame. If a pipe does burst, turn off the water supply at the stopcock and try to catch any excess water in a bucket or other container. (Don’t use any electrics if you believe these may have been affected by the escaping water). You’ll need to have these checked by a professional electrician.
  14. Monitor the amount of snow on your roof and clear it before accumulations reach unsafe levels.
  15. What if the property will be unoccupied?
  16. If you plan to go away, no matter how short a period, you should keep your property heated to reduce the chance of a pipe freezing. It doesn’t need to be at the temperature it would be when the building is occupied, rather a lower level background temperature.
  17. Leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate into the loft space.
  18. If the premises will be unoccupied for some time, drain down and shut off your water system
  19. Ask somebody to check on your property daily. This may not prevent a loss but early identification of an escape can help reduce the ultimate cost.

If you do suffer from a burst pipe:

  1. Isolate the water at the stop cock and turn on the cold taps. This will drain the system as quickly as possible.
  2. Turn off your central heating.
  3. Protect or remove any vulnerable contents or equipment that may be damaged.

Tom Wilson

Account Manager, Citigate Dewe Rogerson