Yorkshire Water is urging customers to save themselves an expensive headache this winter as the cold weather takes hold.
Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that a staggering 374,000 claims for damage caused to homes by frozen pipes were made across the country last year alone.
Many customers don’t realise that, if a pipe is damaged within the boundary of their property, the costs of repairing it will be their responsibility. In fact, Yorkshire Water receives thousands of calls from customers unsure which pipes they have a duty of care for.
And with the average cost to repair a burst pipe coming in at an eye-watering £6,500 to £7,500, Yorkshire Water and the ABI are joining forces to issue some sound advice to customers on keeping both their home (and their wallet) happy this winter.
Simple measures that can be put in place to save customers both the money and stress caused by an incident include:
Spot the potential problem areas – Keep an eye out for any pipework and taps that might be exposed to freezing temperatures.
Protect your pipes & taps - After identifying the pipes and taps most at risk, wrap them in lagging. Cut a piece of foam insulation to length and clip it on.
Keep your central heating ticking over - Heating a home is expensive, but so is a burst pipe. If you can, leave the heating on constantly at a low temperature. If severe weather is forecast, set the heating to your usual level day and night.
Get to grips with your stop tap - If the worst happens - your pipes freeze and then burst - shutting off the stop tap is the first thing you’ll need to do. In most homes you’ll find the stop tap under the kitchen sink, but it could be located in a cellar, garage or outbuilding. Label your stop tap once you’ve found it and check it works regularly. Make sure the tap turns freely and shuts off fully.
If the worst happens - Don’t use central heating to thaw out; Turn off your stop tap; Check for dripping water and split pipes; If there aren’t any leaks, turn your stop tap back on and open a tap inside the house - for example the kitchen tap; Use a hairdryer to gently melt the ice in the direction of the flow of water; Never use a naked flame; If after thawing you find a pipe has burst, turn off your stop tap immediately and contact a plumber. You can find a local approved plumber at watersafe.org.uk.
Wendy Berriman, Campaigns Assistant at Yorkshire Water, said: “Low temperatures like those being experienced this week make customer’s pipes really vulnerable to bursts. Not only are these expensive to resolve but also incredibly upsetting – causing significant damage to people’s homes.
“That’s why we really want to get the message out there about the simple steps our customers can take to protect themselves over the winter and what to do if the worst case scenario does happen.”
Mark Shepherd, Manager for General Insurance at the ABI, said: “Every winter, freezing temperatures catch many people out. Yet taking a few simple steps now will greatly reduce the risk of facing the trauma of frozen or burst pipes this winter.
“The ABI advises households to ensure loft pipes and tanks are insulated, check their stopcock works and keep their home as warm as possible if they are going away. 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.”
A full list of tips on ensuring customers are winter ready is available on the Yorkshire Water website - http://www.yorkshirewater.com/homehappy.