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Don't let burst pipes put a dampener on your property this winter

16th February 2010 Print

Direct Line has seen a one-third rise in claims from burst pipes and other water damage as a result of the severe weather during the first part of January this year. In addition to the greater number of claims, Direct Line is also predicting much higher costs to replace damaged property and belongings as a result of the greater damage caused by the thaw and re-freeze of the variable weather.

Property owners are urged to take steps to prevent damage as weather forecasts show below-freezing temperatures set to continue over the coming weeks.  The potential for frozen pipes can be combated with good insulation and by keeping the heating on at a low level, even when no one is in the property.

Kate Syred, head of Direct Line for Business, warns: "Most business property policies will cover claims for water damage, but the time and income lost to the reparation work can have a significant impact on any business, so it's a situation that is best avoided where possible. If there is a leak, the first thing to do is shut off the water supply to the property via the main stopcock, then phone your insurer for further advice."

Direct Line has some tips and advice to help avoid damage from burst pipes in the cold weather:

Make sure all pipes, including those in loft spaces, are well-insulated.

Wrap outside taps with insulating, waterproof coverings.

Keep heating on at a low level at all times, as even insulated pipes need to have warm water running through them to keep from freezing. If the property is unoccupied, drain the water system so that water cannot escape if pipes are affected.

Keep important documents in waterproof storage container.

Keep note of high-value possessions, including receipts if possible, to aid a potential claim.

Make sure everyone using the property knows how to shut off the water in the event of a burst pipe, especially if it is a larger property with more than one stopcock.

If the property is unoccupied, leave contact details with a neighbour and leave internal doors and loft hatches open to allow air to circulate.

If pipes do burst:

Turn off the water supply immediately

Run taps to 'empty' the system of remaining water

Immediately organise for a plumber to repair the pipe

Arrange for an electrician to inspect electrics/heating

Keep a record of the damage caused, taking photos if possible

Keep receipts of any emergency work carried out

Call your insurer