How to protect against burst pipes this winter and what to do if you have one

01-Feb-2013

The effects of a burst pipe can be devastating for your business. Regardless of whether you work from home or an office building, escaped water can cause time-sensitive projects to be delayed, essential computer equipment damaged beyond repair and leave your business without a permanent workplace for days, if not weeks.

This can be a worrying prospect for all business owners – however, by applying a few straightforward measures, the chances of a pipe bursting can be reduced dramatically.

  1. Keep the heating on
  2. Leaving your heating on 24 hours a day will help keep the average temperature of your pipes up, and can be one of the most effective ways of preventing burst pipes. If you are leaving your property for a period of time (e.g. to go on holiday for a week), it is worth checking your insurance policy to see whether you need to keep your building at a minimum temperature during the winter months.

  3. Check the water stop tap
  4. Knowing exactly where the water stop tap is, and checking that it is working correctly, will ensure that if a pipe does burst on your property you’ll be able to stop excess water without delay.

  5. Insulate your pipes
  6. If your water tank or pipes in the loft are exposed, consider insulating them. The cost of doing this is relatively low (especially compared to the costs of an insurance claim) and can be done by most plumbers.

  7. Get your boiler serviced
  8. If you haven’t had your boiler serviced recently, it’s important to have a qualified expert inspect it to ensure everything is in working order. If the boiler breaks down during exceptionally low temperatures, it could leave your pipes vulnerable to the cold.

  9. Drain the central heating and water pipes
  10. If you are going to be away from your home or office for long periods of time, consider draining the central heating system and water pipes. With no water in the pipes, the risk of a pipe bursting while you’re away is eliminated.

  11. Let warm air into the loft
  12. Leaving the loft hatch open will allow warm air to circulate around the pipes, minimising the chances of them freezing.

What to do if you have a burst pipe

Even with precautions taken, sometime burst pipes are unavoidable. If you do suffer one, it’s important to act promptly.

  1. Take action
  2. Turn the water off at the stop tap to prevent any more water getting into the house, and switch off the central heating. If it’s safe, use towels to soak up water, and if it’s possible, move any furniture from the flooded areas. Don’t go near anything electrical that may have been damaged.

  3. Notify your insurer
  4. It’s important you let your insurer know as soon as you discover a pipe has burst. They deal with hundreds of burst pipe claims every year and will be able to advise on the best course of action. If you need to call a plumber to make emergency repairs, your insurer will probably cover it (check your policy wording) but make sure you keep all invoices and receipts to pass onto them.

    After you’ve notified your insurer, they will advise you of the next steps – but it’s important not to engage any tradesmen to undertake further, more substantial, repairs without speaking to your insurer first. They are likely to use specialist firms who will be able to get your property back to normal in the shortest possible time.

  5. Communicate with your clients
  6. The disruption caused by a burst pipe can put a huge strain not only on your businesses’ finances, but also relationships with your clients. It’s important to let them know if there is any disruption to your business caused by a burst pipe – it will avoid any awkward conversations later down the line and they will appreciate your transparency.

Burst pipe insurance - insuring your property against burst pipe claims

We can provide comprehensive cover for your buildings and contents, and also offer business interruption insurance, which covers the additional costs in working (or loss of income) that are often incurred when you suffer a burst pipe or similar disruption. To find out more, visit our office insurance page.