With gallons of water spewing out of the ruptured pipework, it is easy to damage carpets, furniture and other structural elements. The extent of any destruction will depend largely on where the pipe is located and how long it takes to cut off the water supply. However, in most situations you will be grateful for having a solid home insurance policy, particularly if the repairs and replacements run into the thousands – which is far from uncommon.
But what can you do to prevent this situation from ever arising? Well, the good news is that there are a few measures you can take to reduce the risk, if not eliminate it entirely. Better still, these steps won’t cost you much and are relatively easy to implement. So what’s the solution?
Ensure heating remains on during winter months
As mentioned previously, most burst pipes are caused by frozen water. This can cause fractures that gradually or even suddenly split apart. In this case, the most obvious solution is simply to ensure that the water never freezes in the first place. There are a number of ways of achieving this, but the most effective is to maintain a regular temperature by heating the water.
You won’t need to turn the thermostat up to the highest setting, nor will you have to sit around your home in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt to cool down. Maintaining a consistent level of 10-15° will be enough to stave off any sub-zero cold bursts. Again, the idea is simply to prevent freezing, not boiling the water to intolerable levels.
While there is a cost involved in keeping the heating on throughout the day and night, this is likely to be much lower than what you’re liable to pay on repairs. Switching off the boiler while you go away or head out for an evening might seem like the cheap option, but it may well prove to be a false economy.
Improve insulation surrounding exposed pipes
The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ policy is unlikely to do you many favours when it comes to pipework. Just because you’ve never had any issues in the loft before, it doesn’t mean that you are immune from future problems. So before winter rolls in, you might want to take a look at how much insulation there is surrounding pipes in your loft and look for any existing signs of corrosion.
As most damage occurs in areas where pipes are exposed to the elements, any that are outside or in unheated areas such as the loft are most at risk. Therefore, you should take special care to see what can be done to keep the water flowing and stop the ice from forming. Added insulation is an obvious solution and it can be installed without any great cost or upheaval.
Don't try to thaw frozen pipes instantly
If you’ve ever hopped in the bath having come in from a walk in the cold snow, you will be all too aware about the effect that it has on your body. Even relatively mild water can feel as though it is reaching boiling point. This is simply because of two sharply contrasting temperatures colliding, creating a shock within your body. The greater the difference, the more extreme the reaction.
This same principle can be applied to pipes that are filled with ice. While you might want access to running water again and warm your house through, attempting to hasten this process by setting the thermostat to full could lead to disaster. Allow the system to reheat slowly and you can avoid rupturing a pipe unnecessarily. When boiling meets freezing there is always going to be a reaction, so if you don’t want your loft to be full of steam and water, take your time.