Advertorial feature

Water, water everywhere

The memories of the winter freeze may have faded, but for those who had a serious burst pipe incident at home, you may only just be finding things returning to normal as the damage may have taken months to put right.

The problem occurs when water in pipes freezes and expands - potentially cracking them. At this stage, you may not even be aware that anything has happened. However, when it becomes a little warmer, and the temperature in lofts and attics rises above freezing, this ice then melts and seeps out of any cracks it may have caused.

Wet walls, sodden carpets and damaged furniture and possessions take time to fix and may require professional drying out. Insurers paid out millions to deal with these claims, many of which happened at the end of last year and early in 2011. The Association of British Insurers estimated that during the winter freeze crisis, the industry would have paid out around £7 million a day due to the damage caused by burst pipes.

To guard against this, the right level of buildings and contents insurance is important. Those without home insurance may struggle to cope - you may need to pay for builders, plumbers, and electricians, as well as replacing damaged goods.

Most insurance providers will cover for escape of water claims, but it is often best to check that you have protection in this area. Escape of water claims can be covered both on your buildings insurance - since areas like plastering or floorboards may need repairing - and your contents insurance, as items like your TV could be impacted.

Bursting to take control?

Meanwhile, if you do have a burst pipe, what should you do? Firstly, turn off the water supply. This means you should know where the main stop tap is - often it is under the kitchen sink. Then, drain the cold water system by turning on all the taps, followed by turning off the water heating system. It is also important to turn off the electricity supply and avoid touching any light sockets or appliances.

Don't try and fix anything yourself - contact your insurance company as soon as you are aware of the problem to report what has happened and they may supply details of local approved plumbers. If you spot a pipe is merely frozen, you may be able to thaw it out before it bursts, using hot towels or a hairdryer - taking care to keep the dryer well away from any water - and opening the tap nearest to the suspected problem, to allow water to drain away. If the leak is small, it could also be a good idea to mop up any excess water as soon as possible. This can help minimise damage to your flooring.

Burst pipes can cause a lot of disruption and mess, so preventing them is the best strategy. This can be done by insulating pipes, the loft and water tanks. If you have existing insulation, check out that this is still fit for purpose, rather than just having a cursory glance through the loft hatch.

And, if you are going away during cold weather, you should try and leave heating on low if possible and ask someone to call in and check all is well. Leaving your home cold and empty for an extended time increases the likelihood of a problem and more damage. Turning off your water supply before you leave could also be a good idea, helping prevent a potential flood if a pipe were to break whilst you're away.

The past few winters have been exceptionally cold and while it's not pleasant to think about, getting ready for winter now means you are less likely to face problems when the temperatures start to fall.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

    £15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test