Much as we might all wish it were otherwise, winter is closing in fast and bad weather over the months ahead is a sad certainty.
Not even we at Holiday Let Mortgages can do anything about that but what we can do is to offer you a few basic tips as to how to avoid burst pipes this coming winter:
- lag all your external pipes. This advice has been around for centuries and it remains perfectly valid today but every year people forget to do it and burst pipes are the result
- do likewise for internal pipes. People sometimes think that frozen pipes are only an issue outside but in fact they can easily happen inside as well. That might be a particular risk where you have water pipes fixed to an outside wall with little insulation in place
- where practical, drain down your system for the winter if you’re not in residence. The danger to your pipework arises from water inside that, as it freezes, expands and cracks the pipe encasing it. You may not see that until the thaw sets in. Of course, if you have drained your pipe and there is no water in it, that freezing can’t really happen
- where possible, look at anti-frost and low-level heating solutions, again if you’re away. Just the tiniest occasional trickle of heat may be sufficient to keep the temperature in your property above freezing during the winter time when unoccupied but of course, consider economy and safety
- don’t forget your loft. Many properties have water pipes and tanks in the loft and these are just as vulnerable to freezing as pipes elsewhere. In fact, the vast increase in the recent extensive use of loft floor insulation means that temperatures in lofts are now perhaps lower than they were in decades past. So, make sure your pipes are lagged and leave the loft hatch open to let warm air up during the freezes
- use your neighbours when you are away. Ask them to occasionally pop into your property and check things like the pipework and heating while you are not living there. You might also trust them to occasionally switch on the heating at a lower level if a freeze is anticipated. Of course, be cautious about water central heating systems if you have drained down the system beforehand
- be cautious with a frozen pipe. There are techniques for gently thawing out a pipe in such a way as to reduce the chances of cracking. Not everyone has the same methodology and not everyone agrees which is the best – so research these and form your own opinion
- don’t forget your garden pipes. If you have relatively exposed pipework feeding things such as fish ponds and fountains, these may be at risk unless they are similarly drained down. Make sure that is the case or if that isn’t possible, that they are well insulated
As a final tip, though it may do nothing to reduce the risks of your pipes becoming frozen, make sure that you check your insurance policy carefully.
Some policies may have very specific provisions relating to burst pipes over the wintertime and they may place certain responsibilities upon you, as the policyholder. Make sure that you understand what these are and that you comply with them fully, unless you wish to put your cover at risk!