As Britain faces sub-zero temperatures from today, commercial insurer NFU Mutual is advising property managers and landlords to prepare their property for winter’s worst.
Statistics from NFU Mutual show that the average cost of repairs to damage from leaks caused by frozen pipes is around £4,700.
As the Met Office predicts freezing conditions and snow in some parts of the UK for the next few days, the insurer is warning that plumbing in properties may be weakened by freezing weather.
“Escape of water causes a huge amount of damage, whatever the cause, but burst pipe claims caused by frost damage are a particular concern at this time of year. Landlords and tenants can take a number of steps to protect their property before a cold snap. Prevention is always better than cure and protecting plumbing before a drop in temperature can dramatically reduce the chances of any damage being caused” explains NFU Mutual spokesman Rob Mayo.
“If a tenant discovers an escape of water in your property, it’s important you act quickly but calmly. Turn off your water at the stop cock and drain the system by opening all the taps. If damage is serious, then call your insurer to seek advice about professional help with drying out the property and getting repairs underway.”
He also gave a five-point guide for agents and landlords:
1. Locate your stop cock - This will normally be located below the kitchen sink, or wherever the water supply enters the home. Make sure you can access it and close it easily.
2. Drain your system - If you’re planning on leaving the property unoccupied during the rest of the winter, take a few moments to turn off the stop cock and drain the plumbing of both hot and cold water systems.
3. Get those pipes lagged - Well insulated loft spaces will get very cold in winter and so it’s important you give your water pipes extra lagging to help prevent them freezing and bursting.
4. Keep the heat flowing - Keeping the thermostat at a normal setting overnight or while the property is unoccupied will help to keep the building temperature above freezing.
5. Check your plumbing - Remember, any damage to pipes happens if the water in them freezes; but the escape of water only happens when the frozen pipes thaw out. Checking pipes for signs of freezing or bursts such as leaking or dripping joints, will help you to react to a possible problem or nip it in the bud. Asking tenants to do the same will help to protect rental properties too.