Don't get the winter holiday blues


In Consumer Advice, Burst pipes, Plumbing emergencies

Are you making up for last year’s lockdown by booking a break away? If you are leaving your home empty you may need to take precautions if a cold snap bites. Frozen and burst pipes pose a particular danger when the mercury drops below freezing. Water damage can cause similar levels of destruction as a fire - costing £1,000’s worth of damage and ruining irreplaceable possessions. 

The CIPHE gives the following advice to those going away over the winter months:

  • In the week before you go, have a quick check around any exposed pipework, including outdoor taps, overflow pipes and pipes in your loft space. If your pipes could do with a bit of thermal help, take a quick trip down to your local plumbing or DIY merchant for some lagging. It’s cheap, easy to fit and something you can do yourself.
  • If your plumbing system incorporates a cold water cistern (normally found in the loft space) this should be adequately insulated too. Again, you can insulate this yourself, but if you would more rather leave it to the professionals, you can find one via our Find a plumber search tool.
  • On the day you leave, turn off your water supply at the main stop valve (sometimes called a stop cock). If a very cold snap is forecast you may wish to drain down water in the system to prevent the pipes freezing. This can be done by opening the cold taps / flushing the toilet until the system runs dry. Make sure you remember to close the cold taps after. 
  • Many central heating systems can normally be set to a ‘frost’ setting, which will keep the heating system ticking over at a temperature low enough to not hit you hard on the heating bills, but high enough to stop your home from going below freezing. If you have the facility available, then you should use it.
  • Double check the small print on your house insurance policy. They may require you to take the steps above to prevent water damage. If the worst did happen, you don’t want to find out your insurance policy is void.

So if you are going away this year, make sure you give as much thought to plumbing and heating systems as you do to your home security. Should the worst happen, remember you can always find list of professional plumbing and heating engineers online via our find a plumber online tool.