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Going away? Don’t get caught out by a white Christmas

With many of us upping sticks to stay with family and friends over the festive period, there can be lots to remember. While packing the presents will be top of the list, have you thought about the steps you should take to protect your home should a cold snap bite? 

With the odds of a white Christmas in London at 5/1, Manchester 4/1 and Newcastle at 5/2, there is a risk we could see freezing temperatures while the festivities take place. If your home is empty, this could spell disaster.Water damage from a burst pipe can cause similar levels of destruction as a fire, causing £1,000’s worth of damage and ruining irreplaceable possessions. 

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) gives the following advice to those going away over the winter months:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 www.ciphe.org.uk
  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. 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.
  5. 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 at www.ciphe.org.uk