Winter is coming so don’t be frozen out: how to protect against frozen and burst pipes this winter

With winter fast approaching and many homes worried about rising heating bills, the last thing you want is the inconvenience, worry and expense of frozen or burst pipes when temperatures drop. Follow our advice here to avoid being caught unawares by frozen or burst pipes this winter.

Frozen and burst pipes can cause significant disruption and serious property damage, even if the rupture is minor. Last year the average cost of weather-related home insurance claims for burst pipes was £9,300.

A cold onset of winter can lead to an increase in pipe problems – when the ‘beast from the east’ struck in 2018, it resulted in a tenfold increase in pipe burst damage compared to the previous year.

Callum Tanner, Manager General Insurance at ABI, said:

“We understand the financial pressure that rising energy bills are putting on many households. By taking a few simple steps now, you can reduce the disruption, stress and expense caused by pipe problems this winter while keeping your heating bills as manageable as possible. Of course, insurers are willing to help in the worst case, but prevention is always better than cure.”

To reduce the risk of frozen pipes this winter, the ABI recommends:

  • By taking a few simple steps, like insulating water pipes and water tanks in the attic, using draft excluders around doors can help keep your home warm and reduce energy bills. More information here:
  • If you have a smart thermostat, most will have an anti-freeze setting to heat your home to a very low temperature that prevents the pipes from freezing. If you don’t have a smart meter, most radiators have a setting with a snowflake icon – refer to this setting to allow minimum water flow between pipes and radiators to prevent freezing. Consider setting the heating on a timer when you go away.
  • Know where your stopcock that shuts off the incoming water supply is located and test to make sure it’s working. It is usually located under the kitchen sink. If you can’t find it, ask a neighbor or get advice from a licensed plumber.
  • If you’re going on vacation or leaving your home unoccupied, consider turning off the water at the faucet to reduce the risk of freezing and bursting pipes. See below if your house is unoccupied.
  • Fix dripping faucets. This will prevent water from freezing.

If your pipes are freezing, the ABI advice is:

  • Immediately turn off the water line using the shut-off valve. Wait for the pipes to warm up or try to thaw them with a hot water bottle.
  • Don’t try to smash the ice with a hammer or melt it in one hit, there’s a good chance this will do more damage.
  • Move any possessions such as furniture or clothing that are near frozen pipes in case the pipe bursts.

If your pipe bursts, the ABI advises:

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock. Turn off the central heating and all other water heating systems. Open all taps to drain the system.
  • Move any possessions such as furniture or clothing to avoid further property damage.
  • In either case, contact your insurer immediately for advice. Many insurers operate 24-hour hotlines. They will advise you on the next steps and help organize professional repairs.

If you plan to leave your house unoccupied Check your home insurance to see if there are any limitations on coverage or special requirements if you will be using your home for more than a certain period of time, e.g. B. 30 days or more, remains uninhabited.

Heat your home safely. Open fires and candles may seem like a great way to keep your heating bills down, but they greatly increase the risk of fire damaging or destroying your home and property.

When using an open fireplace, have the chimney and flues checked and cleaned by a professional if they have not been used for a long period of time. Make sure you use fire protection.

Your local fire department should be able to give you some advice on how to safely heat your home


Notes for editors

Inquiries to:

Helen Mitchell 020 7216 7411 Mobile: 07834 328512

Malcolm Tarling 020 7216 7410 Mobile: 07776 147667

Myles Langstone 020 7216 7335 Mobile: 0784 626206

Emily Cole 020 7216 7337 Mobile: 07860 189072

Sarah Aspinall 020 7216 7412 Mobile: 07725 245297

The Association of British Insurers is the voice of the world’s leading UK insurance and long-term savings industry. As a productive, inclusive and thriving sector, we are an industry that provides security for households and businesses across the UK and drives the growth of local and regional economies by enabling trade, risk-taking, investment and innovation.

For more news and information from ABI, visit

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