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Emmet Kavanagh

Sales & Growth Lead with 15+ years insurance experience

Updated: | 2 minute read

As if slippery footpaths and ice-covered cars aren't bad enough during the winter, you face another potential headache: ruined carpets and water damage to your ceilings and walls from leaks caused by bursting pipes. You can avoid the resulting aggravation and expense by taking several basic steps right now to prevent freezing pipes.

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed tap at the end of a pipe, which leads to pipes bursting at their weakest point. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather, where holes in your home's outside walls for television, cable or telephone lines, allow cold air to reach them.

When freezing weather arrives how do you protect your home?

  • Find out where the mains water stopcock is, and make sure it turns off easily.
  • Make sure your home is heated for a part of each day and night to ensure that water in pipes do not become frozen 
  • Open the attic door to allow heat to circulate into the attic
  • Ensure there is no insulation under your water storage tank in attic. If there is, remove it, so as to allow heat from the house to circulate.
  • Ensure the pipes in your attic and external pipes are properly lagged. The more insulation the better.
  • Ensure that cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes are sealed with caulking.
  • In your kitchen and bathrooms, keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • If you plan to be away overnight, ensure that the heating is on for a part of the evening or night and leave the attic door open to allow heat to circulate in the space
  • If you own a holiday home please remember to turn off the water supply at the mains and drain down the entire cold water and heating system.
  • If your pipes do freeze, turn the water off and thaw them out slowly with hot water bottles.
  • Review your Home Insurance policy to make sure you have sufficient coverage in the event that your pipes burst.

What do you do in the event of a burst water pipe claim?

  • Review your Home Insurance policy to make sure you have sufficient coverage in the event that your pipes burst.
  • If there is minor damage to your home (up to €2,000 worth of damage to be repaired) you may arrange for the damage to be repaired - you must take photos and retain all receipts.
  • For more serious damage report any property damage to your insurance company immediately and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
  • For information about filing a Home Insurance claim after bursting pipes have caused damage to your home, click here.
  • Remove potted plants, books, shoes, paper goods, fabrics and other items which may stain wet carpet.
  • Avoid disposal of items which are part of your claim until company has given authorisation. These items must be kept for inspection and valuation.
  • If it is possible that any wiring may have been damaged by water the electricity should be disconnected from the main supply.
  • Never attempt to wipe or wash walls, ceilings, or other absorbent surfaces.
  • Water from dishwashers, washing machines, toilet overflows or external flood sources has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness as it contains a significant level of contamination.
  • Always be health & safety aware.

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