As new research* is unveiled showing that one in five (20%) of households that were affected by last year’s ‘Big Freeze’ are not planning to take any action to avoid a repeat this year, experts are recommending that homeowners use the annual visit to the loft to search for the Christmas decorations, to carry out a couple of quick plumbing checks. Quick checks now could help reduce water leaks and burst pipes and make sure that celebrations don’t get dampened.

The research carried out by general insurer, Ageas Insurance, also shows other worrying statistics, too. As many as one in six (17%) householders would not know where to find the water cut-off valve (stopcock) in an emergency, and as many as one in two (52%) of other adults in households would not know how to shut off the water supply in the event of a water leak.

Mark Cliff, Managing Director from Ageas Insurance said:

“Water can leak in a house at a rate of 400 litres (two baths full) of water an hour**, so it truly is a case that prevention is better than cure. Identifying how to turn the water off is the very least that people should know. Five minutes checking pipe insulation while you dig out the Christmas decorations from the loft can help reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing.”

Last winter, the coldest in a generation, millions of homes*** the length and breadth of the country were affected by water leaking inside the home as a result of the big freeze - many of the leaks and resulting damage were avoidable. 34% of insurance claims costs relate to water leaks**** and water leaking from cracks in pipes damaged by cold weather can devastate a home in minutes and destroy treasured possessions in seconds. The resulting devastating damage can take weeks or sometimes months to clear up.

This winter, Ageas Insurance Limited has teamed up with the British Insurers Brokers’ Association (BIBA) to provide an easy to download factsheet with useful information for householders about simple steps that can be taken in the winter months to avoid the heartache of a water leak. The handy factsheet includes guidance such as leaving the hatch open for a few hours when it’s very cold to warm up the loft and help prevent frozen pipes, while checking there is nothing obstructing warmth from the rest of the house reaching the underside of the water tank is also important.

Simply knowing where the water shut-off valve (stopcock) is located, taking precautions if you leave the house for a few days, and making some simple checks ahead of the cold weather can give householders peace of mind this holiday season and throughout the winter months.

Property owners should visit or to download the factsheet and to find a broker in their area for straight forward advice about protecting their home from escape of water this winter. Consumers can also call the BIBA ‘find a broker’ helpline on 0370 950 1790.

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Notes to editors:

* 2022 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed online by Populus between 16th and 19th September 2010. Of these, 1,803 identified themselves as householders and 219 said they were not householders.
** Source: Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors 
*** Source: 8% of householders said that their household was affected by last year’s cold weather1, therefore 2,008,000 estimated households from approximately 25.1 million combined England, Scotland and Wales:
• Communities and Local Government English Housing Survey 2008-9
• General Register Office for Scotland 2008
• Welsh Assembly Government
**** Source: Datamonitor report: UK Household Insurance 2010