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Frozen pipes

Winter has arrived with cold days and freezing nights, increasing the risk of burst pipes. Water damage to a home is covered by buildings insurance. Simple steps can prevent frozen pipes in seasonally cold weather. Do you know how to reduce the risk of a burst pipe?

Bust Pipe

Costs are eye watering

Insurers include burst pipes in the escape of water category, which includes a leaking dishwasher or an overflowing toilet. Escape of water damage is a common insurance claim, costing insurers around £1.8m per day.

Reducing the risk of frozen pipes

To reduce the risk of burst pipes, take the following steps:

  • During the coldest weather, ensure the central heating is set for temperature above freezing (ideally above 15°C).
  • Know where the water shut-off valve (stopcock)is. Test the valve, ensuring it can be turned off quickly.
  • Water pipes should be lagged and the water tank is insulated.
  • Replace tap washers, to stop a dripping tap.
  • Run your taps at regular intervals, as it keeps the water moving (don't over do it if on a water meter).

So, a pipe has frozen

Often a frozen pipe means no running water from the tap, increasing the risk of bursting and flooding your home. If you identify a frozen pipe before it bursts, then you need to:

  • Turn off the water supply and the stopcock in the cold-water tank.
  • Increase the heating temperature in your home, which can thaw affected pipes. Open cupboards and loft hatches to let the warm air circulate around your pipes.
  • Run the tap closest to the frozen part of the pipe. Then thaw it out using a gentle heat source, such as a hot water bottle or hair dryer, and work back to the hot water tank. 

If you need to make an insurance claim, contact your insurer and they will give advice on how to proceed. With cases of major damage the insurer will send a loss adjuster, to assess the claim. Then the insurer will organise the repairs. Given the aggro from a frozen pipe, it's a case of the prevention is better than the cure.

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Visit at  or call the UK call centre 0333 323 0098 for more information.

Important: If your pipes are frozen, make sure you’re safe before doing any work. If you’re not confident, call a plumber.


Date: 05 December 2022 by max robinson