Advice Centre - Get your home winter ready

Get your home winter ready

  • If you plan to go away on holiday, even if it's only a short break of a few days over the festive period, leave the heating on a low setting or timer. This will keep the house above freezing and prevent water expanding as it freezes and potentially bursting a pipe. We would always recommend you do this regardless of it you are going away or not to maintain a constant temperature in your home.

  • Where possible, try and insulate external pipes and the loft area, especially if you have a header tank so that they aren't susceptible to frost damage. These regions are susceptible to damage due to freezing temperatures.

The ABI urges people to take action to prevent frozen and burst pipes

Burst pipes and escape of water are two of the most common dangers to your home during the winter period and the two that most people forget to think about or prepare for. Arranging a tradesman over Christmas isn't exactly an easy thing to do. Water can cause significant damage to all of your belongings, including floor coverings and Christmas presents. Water damage can often mean that you have to move out of your home whilst repairs are made.

The cost and inconvenience caused by a burst pipe can be considerable. Just a small rupture can release gallons of water, damaging plaster, carpets and other contents. And if that isn’t bad enough, ABI data shows that during a spell of freezing weather, a claim to repair a burst pipe can rise to around £7,500.*

  • If the top of your radiator is cold but the bottom is warm there is too much air trapped in the system and you will need to bleed your radiator. Bleeding the radiator releases the air and allows hot water to fill the whole system. It is also worth making sure the service on your boiler is up to date, if you are not sure, then arrange for a service to be carried out before anything goes wrong, preparation is key when it comes to the winter.

  • Tidy the garden, cutting back trees, and if you have any plants climbing the outside of your home, remove these as they act like a sponge and become heavy in wet weather, which could ultimately damage paintwork, bricks, pointing and render. Cardboard and/or straw can be used to protect plants and shrubs.

  • Check roof tiles and guttering to prevent water damage. During the summer and autumn months, debris such as leaves can get trapped and over time these become wet.

  • Ventilate your property. Whilst you are feeling the cold and turning the heating on full, just remember that you should also be ventilating the property, use air vents, extractor fans and open a window when possible, especially in bathrooms and kitchens to avoid condensation and ultimately mould. Try dehumidifiers and items on the market that pull moisture out of the atmosphere. Make sure that if your windows are full of condensation in the morning that you wipe them dry before this moisture has a chance to cause any damage.

If your pipes freeze and burst, the ABI advises:

  • If your pipes freeze, turn water off at the main stopcock straight away and then wait for it to warm up, or you can try and thaw the pipes with a hot water bottle.

  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing which are near frozen pipes in case the pipes burst.

  • If a pipe bursts, turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system.

  • Contact your insurance company helpline for help and advice, including arranging for professional repairs to be carried out.

*ABI Website

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