Advise for UK home owners in cold snap issued
|Wednesday, 16 January 2013|
With a winter cold snap currently enveloping the UK home owners are being advised to make sure they protect their homes from the big freeze.
General advice includes making sure all pipes are insulated so they are less likely to freeze and burst and setting central heating to a minimum of 15ºC if the house is likely to be empty.
Lloyds TSB is urging householders to act now to help protect their homes from plummeting temperatures which can cause extensive damage to property including structural problems and electrical faults. Last year burst and frozen pipes cost Lloyds TSB home insurance £39million with around 26,000 claims registered.
'Claims relating to burst and frozen pipes cost on average £1,500 to fix but this can run high into the thousands so it is worth taking steps to avoid frozen pipes, ensuring you have adequate insurance in place and also knowing how to limit the damage if a pipe does burst,' said Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Lloyds TSB.
The advice includes checking the condition of the roof, looking for cracked or broken tiles, cracks in the chimney or problems with the pointing. If any repairs are needed, hire a professional roofing contractor to carry out the work as soon as possible.
Home owners re advised to have their boiler serviced at least once a year by a GasSafe registered professional and have the central heating and gas fires checked to ensure they are working safely and efficiently. It is also worth checking that the loft is insulated properly but also has adequate ventilation.
Keep a home emergency kit prepared in case of a winter emergency such as a severe snowstorm. This could include torches, spare bulbs and batteries, your home insurance documents, other emergency contact details, tinned food, warm clothing, blankets and a shovel and listen to the radio or check online for regular updates on the weather or other emergency situations.
Last winter 93% of major claims in the home occurred when no one was in the house according to a claims audit by Direct Line home insurance. The audit found that the source of nearly all these claims were leaks from water mains and pipes in the loft.
'This week, leave the heating on at approximately 15 degrees on the thermostat. Whether you are at home or away, open loft hatches to allow them to heat up. Often they are so well insulated to keep cold out of the house that they do not allow heat in and freezing occurs. Find out now where your stopcock is and how to turn off the water supply. You really don't want to be looking for it when water is coming through the ceiling,' said Martin Egan, national property claims manager for Direct Line home insurance.
Insurance provider RIAS, which specialises in providing for the over 50s market, said that elderly people are often reluctant to heat their homes in cold spells because of the added cost but they risk more if they don’t.
It says home owners can make some fairly inexpensive checks such as looking for gaps around television, cable or telephone lines coming through walls and seal them up so cold air stays out. Also thicker curtains will help to keep more heat in the home.
If the house will be empty for two weeks or more, turn off water supplies and drain the system to avoid pipes freezing and bursting.It advises opening up any kitchen and bathroom cabinets as this will help warm air circulate near the pipes under sinks and to leave loft hatch doors open, this will assist warm air rising into the loft space stopping water tanks from freezing.
The main home insurance claim during cold snaps is for weight of snow damage, weakening and collapsing roofs.
‘If possible, use a snow rake to remove any snow from roofs, snow on rooftops can lead to them weakening and collapsing and snow melting and refreezing in gutters,’ says the advise from RIAS. ‘Where possible, make sure additional extended accidental insurance cover is added if there are very flat roofs or conservatories at the property,’ it adds.
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