Tips for protecting your property during the cold snap

As temperatures begin to fall and winter is well and truly setting in we thought we would write to you with some important advice on how to protect your home in freezing temperatures and avoid the distress and damage that freezing pipes can cause.

We have seen an increasing number of claims over recent years mostly by clients leaving their homes unattended during a cold snap or if they have a secondary home leaving this uninhabited by tenants. The damage that can be caused can leave your property severely damaged and uninhabitable. It’s therefore essential to put in place some preventative measures to avoid this happening to you.

How to avoid the potential damage and distress caused by freezing temperatures:

  • Make sure that all exposed water pipes and tanks in the loft are properly and adequately insulated.
  • Leave your heating on constant i.e. 24 hours per day when there are freezing temperatures.
  • Inspect your cold water tank regularly and, if it is metal, make sure it is not corroding.
  • Know where your main stop valve is located and make sure you can turn it on/off with ease. It’s also a good idea to label it so that everyone in the household is fully aware of its location in an emergency
  • Repair dripping taps. It’s usually just a washer that’s needed.
  • A constantly dripping overflow pipe is a sure sign that your system requires some maintenance.
  • If, during freezing conditions, the heating fails or makes loud banging noises, this could indicate that a pipe is freezing. Turn off the boiler and call a plumber immediately or, if you have
  • Regularly check the condition of flexible hoses to plumbed-in domestic appliances.
  • Have your entire heating system checked throughout on an annual basis – not just your boiler.
  • Consider the installation of frost-stats.
  • Consider  the installation of a leak prevention and detection system

Winter Tips

If your property is likely to be unoccupied during freezing temperatures also consider the following:

 If you plan to go away, even just overnight, leave your heating on constant (minimum 15 degrees Centigrade), especially if a cold spell is predicted. Also check with your insurance broker, or us, to see if any unoccupancy conditions will apply to your policy.

  • Leave the loft hatch open to allow warm air to circulate in the loft space.
  • Turn off the domestic water supply if your home is being left for a long period.
  • If you leave your home unoccupied, even for just a day, ask a neighbour or relative to check the house regularly so that any problems can be detected and dealt with immediately.
  • Consider using Homesitters to look after your home while you’re away.

What to do in the event of burst or leaking pipes in your home:

  • Turn off the water supply at the main stop valve.
  • Contact an approved plumbing and heating engineer for assistance – or if you have Home Emergency cover under your policy, call the 24 hour Home Emergency Helpline listed at the

front of your policy.

  • If you should locate a frozen pipe, NEVER use a naked flame to thaw it out. A hot water bottle or hairdryer (keeping it well away from any water) on low heat will assist in achieving a gradual defrost. Always start from the end nearest to the tap.
  • Water leak prevention and detection systems are becoming increasingly popular and thereby more cost effective. of one of these devices, even more so if your home is not occupied

If you’ve found this article of interest please share it with your friends by using the social media share buttons below.


Author: Tony Gibbs | December 1st, 2012

Contact the author

Tony Gibbs
Get in touch:   Reading: 0118 916 5480   London: 020 7036 8767