Budgeting for burst pipes
Although we look forward to bonfire nights and Christmas cheer, winter also brings us bad weather which can cause us all sort of problems.
Whilst we usually take precautions like wearing warm coats, thick socks and driving slower on the roads, we can’t always be prepared for what lies around the corner. One common winter problem we can often forget about is burst pipes.
And when pipes freeze and burst, they cause all sorts of problems. The biggest of which is of course financial.
Why do pipes burst?
A pipe will freeze before it bursts. So if you can prevent them freezing you reduce the risk and your worries. After all, prevention is cheaper than cure!
To help prevent frozen pipes:
- Repair any dripping taps. This can prevent water from freezing.
- Insulate your external pipes with lagging making sure to lag bends and joints.
- Do the same with internal pipes especially in unheated rooms like the loft and garage.
- The cold water tank can often be the cause of burst pipes so make sure it is well insulated.
- Leave your heating on for at least one hour a day to avoid the temperature dropping too low, whether you’re home or away.
- In extreme weather conditions, open your loft hatch to allow warm air from downstairs to circulate upstairs
It isn't just frozen pipes which may burst
Although freezing weather conditions are by far the most common cause of pipes bursting there are other occasions when this can happen. Old pipes can decay or small faults in the pipe work can deteriorate over time causing them to burst.
What happens when a pipe bursts?
Sometimes the water in the pipe can freeze solid. When it turns to ice, the water expands creating lots of pressure. Eventually it ruptures and water escapes.
The issue with piping is that it’s mostly hidden. You may not even be aware a pipe has burst until the build up of water becomes too much and cascades through the ceiling or down the wall causing a huge amount of damage.
Insurance claims from burst pipes can run into thousands of pounds and many families return from winter breaks to find their home wrecked by water damage thanks to frozen water and pipes bursting during their holiday.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the insurance industry pays out £2.5m every day to customers for ‘escape of water’ home insurance claims.
But what if you don’t have home insurance? Or what if your insurance policy doesn’t cover the total cost of a claim? A survey by Homeserve revealed that frozen or burst pipes are one of the biggest (27%) unexpected cost concerns for those with strained family budgets.
Any flood damage in a private property is the responsibility of the homeowner so budgeting in advance for such an event and taking preventative measures to minimise risk is essential.
The cost of a burst pipe
Even if you have a home insurance policy, you may still have some costs to pay depending on your policy type. Always read your insurance policy documents carefully to check the amount of cover and your excess level.
Typically, there are three main costs concerned with a burst pipe:
- The cost of locating and accessing the leak
- The cost of repairing the leak
- The cost of water damage to fixtures and fittings as a result of the leak
Locating a leak can be tricky. If a leak is coming from an area of the house you don’t have access to, you may need to call in an expert.
Trace and access cover will cover the cost of finding the source of the problem. Without this, your insurer may cover the cost of the leak but you could find yourself having to cover the costs to repair access holes in walls or floors.
Before assessing the water damage, the burst pipe must first be fixed. Again, this cost may be included in your home insurance, but always check.
For added protection, it’s worth considering having home emergency cover in your policy: this can protect you if you need to call in an emergency plumber.
If you discover a burst pipe
If after a cold night you turn on your taps and instead of the usual steady flow of water you find a little trickle and then nothing – it’s likely that your pipes are frozen. They will need to be thawed out before the pipe bursts and you need to call a plumber.
- Turn off the water at the stopcock
- Switch off the central heating
To find where the pipe is frozen, turn off the mains water supply. This will stop water gushing out after the pipe has been thawed out. Next, turn on all the taps. Are they all frozen?
If so, the freeze might be in a pipe close to the water meter. Just touch the pipes in this area. If they are very cold they are probably frozen.
- Drain water from the taps
Once you’ve found the frozen pipe, open the affected taps all the way and all other HOT water taps in the house. When the water is flowing in the affected pipe close all the taps to a trickle. Do not close the affected tap until the pipe is completely thawed and the water flowing freely.
If water is running in one part of the house, it’s likely that a pipe in the outside wall or un-insulated crawl space could be frozen. If you think this is the case, open all your cabinets to allow the warm air in the house to warm the pipes through. Gentle heat is the safest way to thaw a frozen pipe.
If you don't have insurance
We've already talked about how the main cost of a burst pipe isn't the repairs to the plumbing it is the damage caused to fixtures and fittings as well as the infrastructure of the house.
If you don't have insurance, or the cover you have doesn't cover all the damage, you could consider a short term loan from Satsuma to help you cope with the situation.
Applying online for a Satsuma loan is a quick and easy process. Satsuma just need your email and home address, bank account information and details of your income and regular outgoings. Your application will be processed immediately and the cash could be in your bank account within the hour.
We don't charge any fees and even new customers can apply for a loan of between £100 and £1,000. Repayments can be scheduled over a period of 3 - 12 months and you can chose to make either weekly or monthly payments.
Whether burst pipes or any other emergency a short term loan from Satsuma can help you through the crisis. Click here to apply.
Representative example: £480 loan repayable over 9 months. 9 monthly repayments of £106.56. Rate of interest 133.1% p.a. fixed. Representative 535% APR. Total amount payable is £959.04