Avoid costly bills and flooding this festive period

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Plumbers' winter warning to avoid costly bills from burst water pipes and flooding over this Christmas period

WaterSafe, the UK body for approved plumbers, is urging homeowners in the Bristol area to wrap up their homes this Christmas to avoid frozen and burst water pipes putting a damper on festivities.

The national accreditation body, which is backed by water companies including Wessex Water and Bristol Water, is supporting the Met Office’s Get Ready for Winter Campaign. The campaign includes advice on keeping homes warm and safe during the festive season and beyond.

Derrick Ryall, Executive Head of Public Weather Services at the Met Office, said: “People in the UK are resilient and severe winter weather is something we’re all used to, so we sometimes underestimate its impact on our everyday lives. Our research shows that many people are too relaxed, however, and are confused about what they need to do to prepare. This is why we have created the comprehensive winter checklist, so households can ensure they are fully prepared this winter.”

As temperatures drop below zero degrees, frozen and burst water pipes can cause flooding, damage and leave homes without water. New figures from the Association of British Insurers say claims to repair a burst water pipe can reach £7,500.

Despite this, new Met Office research shows that 75% of people it surveyed are unsure if their pipes are insulated and protected against freezing.

WaterSafe is advising homeowners to check water pipes in draughty areas such as attics and garages and outside taps. If they aren’t wrapped in lagging (a foam material designed to prevent freezing) it’s time to act. Insulating pipes not only protects them from winter weather but keeps the heat in, saving money too.

WaterSafe is also encouraging homeowners to fix leaky taps before temperatures drop, as even a trickle can result in a frozen tap. Dealing with leaks as soon as you discover them is also an important water-saving measure as every drop counts. Fixing a dripping tap could save 5,500 litres of water a year, not to mention £18 off water bills.

Top tips for a winter-ready home include:

  • Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check it’s working.
  • Make sure all pipes in unheated areas and outside taps are insulated.
  • Fix any dripping taps or toilet cisterns – this will also save water.
  • Check your central heating boiler has been serviced.
  • If you’re going away, consider leaving your heating on and set the thermostat to 14°C. Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
  • Keep the name and number of a WaterSafe approved plumber to hand for emergencies.

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe said: “Knowing where your stop tap is, so you can turn off the water quickly if a pipe freezes or bursts, is essential."

“However, ‘prevention is better than cure’ so following our tips now will help homeowners enjoy peace of mind and a safe festive period during colder weather. If you’re not confident about insulating water pipes or fixing dripping taps yourself, a WaterSafe recognised plumber can help and offer advice,” she concluded. 

To find your nearest approved plumber use the postcode search at watersafe.org.uk or call 0333 207 9030.

Visit watersafe.org.uk/winter for further advice on getting homes winter ready.

Find out more about the wider ‘Get Ready for Winter’ campaign, which is run by the Met Office on behalf of the Cabinet Office, here: metoffice.gov.uk/barometer/advice.

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