A recent news release from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) emphasised the importance of acting on the risk of pipes freezing and bursting during the cold months. Their data shows that these types of claims “cost an average £8,800 over the past year, but can often be even more” and at the start of 2018, around the time we saw the ‘Beast from the East’, total claims for damage related to frozen and burst pipes jumped to £197m, “suggesting people are unprepared for the impact of extreme weather”.
Laura Hughes, the ABI’s Senior Policy Adviser, General Insurance said that “the key to preventing wintry weather-related headaches [in the form of frozen and burst pipes] is preparation”. Here we briefly detail four steps that can be taken by those responsible for premises to defend their plumbing systems against extreme cold.
Step 1: Carry out a risk assessment
Plumbing systems in unheated or open areas, such as large warehouses, will be more vulnerable as the temperature drops so could benefit from trace heating, lagging or simply avoiding water supplies and pipework in these areas.
Step 2: Stay on top of maintenance and repairs
A small leak might be just a nuisance now but in freezing conditions may cause damage to the plumbing system resulting in pipes bursting. Don’t forget to check for defects and regularly maintain your plumbing systems.
Step 3: Keep heating on or drain down equipment
Time the heating to run at regular intervals at a temperature that will prevent freezing, even when the premises are empty. If the property is going to be vacant for an extended period then it might be worthwhile to drain down water installations and equipment (except sprinkler systems for fire protection).
Step 4: Always be prepared for leaks and burst pipes
Even after taking all the available precautions, unforeseen events, like blockages, accidental external impacts or an exceptionally cold winter, might cause damage to plumbing systems. Keeping stock, materials and equipment off the floor as a matter of course may reduce the potential extent of damage, as well as checking that keyholders know where the main stop cock is and ensuring the valve gets exercised regularly so it can be used easily in an emergency. You might also want to consider installing leak detection devices that can automatically shut off the water supply and raise an alarm.
Source: Allianz Insurance Plc