Date Published 05 December 2012
Last weekend`s cold weather brought an early winter freeze and a reminder to home owners of the problems they can face.
Following a couple of very harsh winters, 2011 saw a drop in the number of burst pipe claims in the UK of around 20% according to AXA claims data.
However, the insurer is warning that as temperatures fall over the coming days, homeowners should not forget the importance of taking sensible precautions to protect their homes from the devastating consequences of a burst pipe.
The average cost of a burst pipe remains at around two and half times more than a burglary claim. And during freezing weather, customers are three times more likely to experience a burst pipe than a theft.
It seems that consumers have quickly forgotten the lessons learnt over the freezing winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11. Research carried out each year by AXA shows that in 2009 around 38% of people took the most basic precaution of leaving heating on low when going away over the winter period. By 2011 (after widespread damage caused by freezing weather in 2010) this figure had climbed to 46%. However research carried out last month suggests that this figure has dropped back down again this year to 42%.
Moreover, only 20% have checked pipes are lagged and only 30% will get neighbours to check on their property while they are away.
Historically, those most at risk of damage from burst pipes are older homeowners who take extended breaks abroad over the winter.
Christine Matthews, head of household claims at AXA said: "Even in a generally milder winter, tens of thousands of people will experience the misery of returning to a home damaged by water from a burst pipe if they are caught out by a cold snap.
"Protecting your home from damage is really very simple and can save the heartache of having your home and precious contents destroyed by water.
"We know that heating can be expensive but keeping the radiators on low while you are away could prevent the devastating consequences of a burst pipe."
AXA`s tips for protecting pipes
1 Leave your heating on at a minimum of 13°C. This will stop water in your pipes from freezing.
2 Leave your loft hatch open to let warm air circulate - particularly if you have a cold water tank in your loft.
3 Make sure you know where your stop cock is so you can turn off water quickly in an emergency.
4 Check the insulation on your water pipes and the lagging on your cold water tank - if there`s none in place get it sorted as soon as possible.
5 Insulate your loft - not only will this keep your home warm, it has environmental benefits too.
6 Leave your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open - this will allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes that are often found inside these cupboards.
7 Seal any holes that let in cold air. With modern technology, increasing numbers of people have holes in the wall for computer cables or TV links.
8 If you`re going away for an extended break, drain your water system and check that you have insurance cover in place that does not have restrictions relating to un-occupancy.
9 Also if you are away, get your neighbours to check on your property.
10 Check your insurance is up to date and you are covered for the full value of your contents.