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Post-Thaw – check once more!

Jan 28, 2013

Now that the ice and snow are melting and the temperatures are rising, a Thaw can be as worrying as a big freeze if steps are not taken to avoid an escape of water at home and in business premises. And don’t forget, as we found last year, there’s likely to be more snow and freezing conditions to come.

Cracks in pipes and plumbing joints may not be noticeable because frozen water is keeping them sealed but as it defrosts it could cause leaks and internal floods. These may start slowly at first - almost unseen - but could lead to devastating damage and disruption. Follow our simple guide on the next page for practical help from experts.

Here are four checks that need to be made right now:

  1. Test all taps to make sure that water is free flowing. Check with a plumber if the flow is restricted or intermittent. Look for split or dripping or rusting or oxidised pipes/joints.
  2. Consider keeping heating on low at nights if your house is not fully insulated to beyond the current standards. Even if the day temperatures are milder, the nights are likely to be cold and you may not know if a cold snap hits over night.
  3. Attics and loft spaces. Check for any supply or overflow pipes that have frozen. Check cisterns for leaks. If you have water pipes or cisterns in the loft, open the loft hatch to let warm air enter the roof void during very cold spells, check lagging and insulation has not slipped or become displaced.
  4. Water isolation and shut-off valves. Know where they are, especially where the main valve is. If you need to turn it off for a single appliance, or the whole house, in an emergency make sure you and your family at home, and appropriate colleagues at work, know where the key isolation valves are and how to operate them. At home, let a friendly neighbour know when you are out for a period of time or away and where your main isolation valve is so that they can isolate the water in the event of an emergency.Test shut-off valves/stopcocks regularly to ensure that they work and do not become stiff.

 

What to do if you discover a sudden leak?

Turn off at the water isolation valve (stopcock). Put plugs in to the bath, basins and sink to capture some water and open the taps to drain down the system - making sure the bath, basins and sinks don’t overflow. The water you capture will give you a temporary supply while you await help. If damage has occurred, call your broker or insurance company and arrange professional help. If you have isolated the leak without causing any damage you may need to contact a professional plumber.

Speak to your broker to find out how an escape of water applies to your policy and for more information on the level of insurance cover you have in place and the terms and conditions of your policy.

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