roblems with burst pipes appear to have worsened as households try to cut their energy use, an insurer has warned.
Aviva said it dealt with a surge in calls about weather-related insurance claims over the weekend, with many customers reporting frozen and burst pipes as temperatures plummeted.
It is also urging people to watch out for water leaks as the weather becomes warmer and frozen pipes start to thaw.
Kelly Whittington, property claims director, Aviva, said of the calls the insurer has been receiving: “Sadly the problem seems to have been exacerbated as people try to reduce energy consumption.
“We have seen a number of cases where people have turned off their heating completely because they were not going to be at home, only to find a burst pipe on their return.”
Sadly the problem seems to have been exacerbated as people try to reduce energy consumption
Aviva said it received calls around 400% above predicted volumes over the weekend.
Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland were particularly affected by freeze-related claims, the insurer said.
Ms Whittington said: “December is naturally a cooler month, but this year has been particularly cold, with sub-zero temperatures across the country.
“Water expands as it freezes and unfortunately in the case of water pipes, the pressure can cause them to rupture.
“People may not even be aware this has happened until the frozen pipes begin to thaw, so we’d encourage people to be on their guard to any signs of water leaks.”
She added: “Our claims teams have been working to help as many customers as possible over the weekend, to put right the homes that have been affected.
“But we understand how distressing a water leak can be, particularly at this time of year, so we strongly urge people to take steps now, to minimise the chance of future problems if temperatures suddenly fall again.”
Here are some tips from Aviva for avoiding burst pipes:
– Lag your pipes
Insulate all visible pipes with lagging, available from most DIY stores. Particularly focus on exposed pipes in small spaces, such as the attic. Cold water tanks, normally found in the loft, can also be covered with an insulation jacket.
– Let warm air flow
If your pipes and tanks are in unheated loft spaces or forgotten cupboards, open the hatch or door occasionally to allow warmer air to circulate around them.
– Consider how you use your heating – particularly if you are away
If you are not at home or are going away for a while, consider setting your thermostat at a low level, or your timer to allow your heating to come on occasionally, rather than turning it off altogether. This can help avoid pipes falling to a temperature where water can freeze inside them.
– Turn off outside taps
Where possible, shut off the water supply to outside taps and then open the taps to drain off any excess water, so it cannot freeze inside the pipes.
– Repair dripping taps
Leaky taps can block your pipe and cause damage if they freeze. Test each of your taps by turning them fully off. If any continue to drip, get them fixed.
– Turn off water when travelling
If you are heading away, you may wish to turn your water off and drain the system to potentially prevent any damage while you are not at home.
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