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Flying way for festive fun?

Christmas is a time for visiting relatives and friends, but it’s also a time of leaving your home unattended. Whether it’s all about having fun with family or escaping away from it all somewhere hot and sunny this year, what precautions are you putting in place to keep your home safe from the damage a cold snap could do?

With the odds of a white Christmas in London hitting 3/1 and Glasgow just 2/1 freezing temperatures could be on their way. Water damage from a burst pipe can cause £1000’s worth of damage and ruin irreplaceable possessions. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) gives the following advice to those going away over the winter months:

  1. A week or so before you go, have a quick check round of 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.

  2. If your plumbing system incorporates a cold water tank (normally found in the loft space) this should be adequately insulated too. Again, you can insulate this yourself, though if you would more rather leave it to the professionals, you can find one via

  3. 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. 

  4. If you have pipework / cold water storage tank in the loft space, open the loft hatch a little so that warmer air within the house can rise.

  5. 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.

  6. Double check the small print on your house insurance policy too. 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. And if you do come home to a plumbing disaster, you can find list of professional plumbing and heating engineers in your area at