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Home insurance - guides

Frozen pipes hints and tips

Every winter the pipes in your home are at risk of bursting from freezing conditions. Prevent damage to your home with these hints and tips.

House with a green heart

Tips to help prevent your pipes from freezing

  • Insulate your loft, sides of your water tanks and all pipes with good quality lagging. A local DIY store will help you get the right materials for the job.
  • Open your loft hatch on cold days so warmer air can circulate up from the floors below.
  • If you're going to be away in the winter, ask someone to check your home regularly to watch out for frozen or burst pipes. If you're going away for a while, consider draining down the system. Note that certain exclusions apply to your home insurance if your home is unoccupied for a certain amount of time - check your policy for full details.
  • Fit new washers to dripping taps so they don't freeze and block the pipe. If you can't replace the washer immediately, put a plug in the sink to catch the drips.
  • Keep your heating on at low temperatures during very cold spells, and take advantage of frost protection thermostats on heaters.

Icon of different coloured pipes

What to do when the pipe's frozen but hasn't burst

  • Remove items like furniture and cover carpet (where practical) near where the frozen pipe is. If the pipe does eventually burst, this should help minimise damage.
  • Carefully thaw out the pipe by opening the tap nearest to the part of the pipe that you think is frozen. This lets the water flow more easily once it’s melted.
  • Thaw the ice in the pipe with a hot water bottle, a cloth soaked in hot water or a hairdryer (but keep clear of any water). Start at the end with the tap and work back towards the cold water tank. Don’t use a heat gun or blow torch. Place a portable heater in the room, but not too close to any water.

"Help! A pipe's burst and there's water everywhere"

No matter how well you prepare, things can still go wrong. If you get a burst pipe at home, we do everything we can to put things right.

The met office logo, which is a black square with some green lines inside the square

Cold Weather Alert Service

The Met Office offers a Cold weather alert service, which gives you advanced warning of adverse weather conditions. This service operates in England from the 1 November to 31 March every year.

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