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Burst pipe warning to homeowners

By Lois Avery

Burst pipes can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage, so insurance companies are urging homeowners to take precautions before a cold snap sets in.

According to insurer esure, a major burst pipe incident can cause over £60,000 of damage to a home. In fact, their research claims that this form of home disaster costs on average more than twice that of a typical river flood claim.

Pipes burst if they freeze then thaw rapidly, something that often causes the escape of water from attic or loft pipes. This, in turn, will eventually bring down ceilings - causing massive damage and often completely destroying the home's contents.

A basic precaution homeowners can take to prevent a burst pipe is to leave the central heating ticking over but turn the stop cock off when they go away during a cold spell.

Gordon Hannah, director of claims at esure, said: "The flood from within can be far worse than the flood from outside.  Every winter esure sees a tragic blueprint: families go away during freezing weather and a thaw causes their pipes to burst.  After a few days of water flow from an attic, they return to find their homes and personal belongings utterly destroyed.

"The cost of burst pipe claims is huge but the emotional impact and inconvenience to homeowners is far worse. We're urging people to turn off the stop-cock - if their boiler permits - when they go away and leave the heating on. It is usually the simplest way to prevent this type of disaster."

esure also advises the following:

• Remove the loft hatch from the roof space to allow warm air from the main house to enter.
• Open doors to the sink unit to allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
• Use only gentle heat, like bottles or towels soaked in warm water, if trying to manually thaw frozen pipes.
• Turn off all outside taps in winter.
• Clear gutters and drains of leaves and blockages.
• Take out insurance - via Home Emergency Cover - to provide immediate professional help in an emergency.

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