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Winter conditions adversely affect many homes in the UK, causing water pipes to expand and rupture in properties and ultimately causing irrevocable damage. The escape of water as a result of burst water pipes has been reported as the most common type of homeowner insurance claim during the winter period. Here, Polypipe offers suggestions on advice installers can give to their customers to keep them better prepared.
One of the first steps your customers can take is to regularly check pipes around the house for bulges or frost covering. A frozen pipe is not always visible and typically occurs when a property is unoccupied for a length of time, such as in the Christmas period. Turning off the mains water supply before leaving the house unoccupied for a winter holiday could prevent wider damage caused by a potential burst pipe.
For a homeowner, tenant or landlord, a burst pipe is a major maintenance disaster. According to insurance provider, MORE TH>N, a burst pipe at mains pressure will leak up to 400 litres of water per hour (two baths full). Regularly checking them could help avoid such disasters.
The main water valve in a home is what controls the water flow, and in case of an emergency an occupant should be able to locate and easily access their mains water valve. This is however not often the case. According to insurer Direct Line, only 82% of homeowners and 57% of tenants know the location of the stopcock controlling the water mains into their home.
Direct Line also reported that the average household cost for damage caused by a burst water pipe is £7000 as a result of flooding, potentially causing serious structural and mould damage if immediate action is not taken. This not only affects a homeowner financially, but also causes emotional distress, especially if sentimental items or household goods are destroyed.
Traditionally brass stopcocks have been the control valve for a home’s mains water supply, however they are not always located in the easiest of places to reach. And due to being susceptible to limescale damage they can be quite difficult to turn off in an emergency. For older residents, or those with varying abilities, this poses a huge problem.
There is however a modern alternative to brass stopcocks, which is a UK manufactured: Surestop stopcock. Fitted in easy-to-reach places, the Surestop stopcock features a lockdown button that can be simply and easily pressed to instantly stop the water supply. There are no electrics or batteries involved, it works purely on the water pressure and it will not seize up or be affected by limescale – unlike brass. The Surestop stopcock is also available with a version that includes a discreet, remote lockdown switch that could be fitted in a kitchen cupboard for easier access and visibility.
Whatever type of stopcock has been installed, it is critical to know where the stopcock in the home is in case of a burst water pipe or a leak. In rented accommodation, it is also important that a landlord makes tenants aware and ensures it has been fitted in an easy to access location. Installers also need to consider this when fitting a stopcock into a new property or a refurbishment. If you know areas of the house are more exposed to the outside frost, tell your customers to consider insulating any pipes within that area. Lofts in the UK are also more affected by cold winter conditions. Therefore insulating any pipes within a loft is always a good method for further protecting a home.
What to do if a pipe bursts:
Winter checklist ….
Just to recap, the recommended winter checklist for homeowners, landlords, tenants and trade are: