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HomeProperty InsuranceHome InsuranceBurst Pipes (Just as I'm Off on Holiday!)

Burst Pipes (Just as I'm Off on Holiday!)

Off on holiday and its snowing. January proved to be a very warm month but we are of course paying for it now with some of the coldest weather seen for quite some time. With half term up upon us, those of us that are sneaking off abroad for a few days break leave will be keeping one eye on the weather forecast and hoping we don’t spend most of our well-deserved leave in the departure lounge of an airport.

Whilst we can hopefully leave our work cares behind us, it’s important that we remember to take care of our homes to ensure that we don’t have any nasty surprises on our return. The threat of burst pipes is a real problem and the colder the weather the more likely you are to suffer damage from this peril.

Statistics show that unoccupied, unheated homes are more likely to suffer a loss, that’s the reason why most insurers place certain conditions on to a home insurance policy if the property remains unoccupied for extended periods ( 30 days is fairly typical).

If you are only going away for a week, and your home is normally heated, it will of course retain some its heat for a while but the current cold snap is proving very testing in deed and you may be unlucky and suffer some damage.

Although it’s probably not a policy condition if you are only going away for a short period, leaving your central heating on a “frost guard” setting can help prevent coming home to a real mess. If you have a loft hatch leaving this open can help to heat any pipework in the loft space. Make sure your pipes are well lagged and check that your drains are guttering are clear to enable any melting snow to escape. If you’re staying at home, keeping an eye on the accumulation of snow on your property and clear it, if it is safely possible to do so. Melting snow, freezing and turning to ice can also be a cause of damage to property.

My own experience highlights the problem. We set off for our half term break and unbelievably, no sooner had our plane touched down than my son was on the phone telling me, we had a burst pipe....... in the garden. Luckily our son was at home and further my neighbour is a builder who didn't mind popping over on a Sunday to cap the stand pipe until it could be sorted out. Of course, we had left the heating in the home on, because my son was there, our pipes are lagged but I had totally forgotten about the stand pipe in the garden. It just goes to show that even with the most meticulous of planning, things can be overlooked.

On a side note, the builder managed to isolate the water supply by using the stop valve under the kitchen sink. However, he pointed out (and i have to say i have never noticed this) we do not seem to have a stop valve outside of our property. Most of our neighbours seem to have an external stop valve either on the pavement or on the edge of their drives, we do not and my builder friend seems to think that the previous owners may have had the valve covered over when they had the drive re surfaced.

I've been on to our local water authority, and they are sending someone around to assess the situation. As my builder pointed out to me, if the whole family had been away for an extended period, the stand pipe in the garden could have caused considerable damage to neighbouring properties. Also, if the stop valve under the sink had failed we would have been looking at an emergency situation.

For someone that is often giving insurance related advise, I’m feeling pretty embarrassed about this situation. I had never thought of looking for the eternal water shut off point and it’s taken something like this to happen to make me get on top of the situation.

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