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Homeowners away for the Christmas break are urged by the ABI to take steps to reduce the risk of returning home to the trauma and expense of burst pipes.


At the height of the abnormally cold spell last winter, insurers dealt with 3,500 claims for burst pipe damage every day. The typical cost of household damage caused by burst pipes last winter averaged up to £7,000, but costs can be much more.


If you are planning to leave your property empty - even just overnight - during winter:

·         Leave your heating on for at least an hour a day while you are away from home. In severe weather, or if severe weather is forecast, you should leave your heating on day and night at your usual temperature setting.

·         If it is very cold, leave the access to your loft open. This allows warm air from other parts of the house to circulate in the loft and will help prevent pipes freezing.  Check that loft insulation is laid over, and not under, pipes in the loft

·         Make sure that you know where your stopcock is, and that it works so that you can turn off the water supply if needed.

·         Ask a friend or relative to visit your home every day while you are away. This will mean that, if you do suffer a burst pipe, it will be detected as soon as possible. Make sure that you tell them where the stopcock is located.


If a pipe freezes:

·         Thaw out the pipe using gentle heat like a hairdryer or towels soaked in warm water.

·         Move furniture and carpet (where practical) away from the frozen pipe to minimise damage if the pipe bursts.


If a pipe bursts:

·         Turn off the water at the stopcock.

·         Switch off the central heating to avoid further damage.

·         If you have a water tank, drain the system by turning on all your taps.

·         Contact your home insurance provider for help and advice. Most home insurers provide 24 hour emergency helplines that can arrange for repairs to be carried out as soon as possible.


Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance, ABI, said:


"When freezing weather arrives so do frozen and burst pipes. Yet taking a few simple precautions, especially if you plan to be away during the winter, will greatly reduce the risk of returning home to problems.


"Home insurance will pay for the often considerable damage caused by burst pipes, but it cannot compensate for the misery and inconvenience that they bring."


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Last updated 01/07/2016