HOMEOWNERS face paying expensive repair bills if their pipes freeze over or bust in the winter – but thankfully there’s a cheap way to prevent damage before it’s too late.
According to the Association for British Insurers, the insurance industry pays out £1.8million every day for frozen pipes and escaping water claims.
While consumer champion Which? says the average cost for calling out an emergency plumber is around £100 to fix a frozen pipe.
With temperatures set to plunge to -5C in parts of the UK, you might be wondering if you should be concerned about your home.
Pipes can burst open in freezing weather when the water inside freezes and expands.
But one way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to protect your pipes with foam insulation.
When The Sun checked, we found plenty of foam tubing insulation priced at less than £1 for one metre.
Where can I buy foam tubing insulation for my pipes?
The best deal we found was from Screwfix, which is selling one metre of foam pipe insulation for 76p.
This doesn’t include delivery fees, as this particular item – which measures 15mm in diameter and has a thickness of 13mm – is unavailable for home ordering.
That means you’ll need to visit one of Screwfix’s 640 stores to pick some up – use the online store finder to track down your nearest branch.
Wickes also stock pipe insulation for the slightly more expensive price of 80p per metre.
Like the Screwfix version, this has a diameter of 15mm although it doesn’t list the thickness of the tubing on its website.
Shoppers can save on delivery costs by picking some up in store, or else you’ll need to pay £2.95 for shipping.
There’s 230 Wickes stores to pick from in the UK and you can track down your nearest by clicking here.
For slightly bigger pipes, B&Q is selling one metre of pipe insulation with a diameter of 22mm for £1.38.
As home delivery isn’t available for this particular product, you’ll need to go to your nearest store.
Here’s the online store finder with information on all of B&Q’s 300 branches so you can find your nearest one.
The cheapest insulation tubing we spotted was being sold by website Airconspares.com for 40p per metre – with a thickness of 9mm – but they charge £8.99 for delivery.
How to prepare your heating for winter
ANDY Kerr, co-founder of smart home tech installers, BOXT, reveals how to get your home ready for winter.
- When it comes to the health of your boiler – boiler pressure matters. The pressure is crucial to your heating operating properly. Too low and the boiler will cut out and you’ll have no hot water. Too high pressure puts unnecessary strain and the system could break down. So, what’s the magic number? 1.5 bar.
- If your radiators are cold at the top and hot at the bottom, then they need bleeding. Arm yourself with a cloth, container and radiator key and turn the heating off. Locate the valve at the top of your radiator, turn the key anticlockwise until you hear a hissing sound. Once the water begins to flow, tighten and you’re done.
- Look for leaks on the boiler and around pipes. Excessive banging or gurgling noises can also suggest there’s a fault. It’s best to get in touch with an engineer who will be able to correctly identify the problem.
- Familiarise yourself with where the mains gas isolation valve is and fit a carbon monoxide alarm.
For more handy advice visit Boxt’s website.
How do I install foam tubing insulation?
B&Q has a handy guide on how you can safely insulate your pipes.
Start by measuring the size of your pipes so you know which insulation to buy.
Once you’re ready to go, B&Q says you need to cut the tubing into the correct size, then slide it on top of your pipes.
The DIY store then suggests using Duct tape to secure the foam into place.
If you’re unsure, ask someone who is experienced in DIY to help you.
Insulating your pipes will also save money you’d otherwise spend on heating up water.
For example, The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical gas-heated home in the UK will save £80 in energy bills just by having its hot water tank fitted with a water jacket.
A water jacket typically costs in the region of £10.
What to do if your pipes have already frozen
If the damage is already done, here’s what you can do to fix a frozen pipe.
The first step is to locate which pipe has frozen.
British Gas says some warning signs to look out for include gurgling sounds from your central heating, your boiler not switching on and taps producing little or no water.
If the pipe hasn’t split, you can try applying hot water bottles to try and thaw the ice.
Be aware that you’ll need to switch off your boiler to avoid any risk of an explosion if part of your hot water system is frozen.
For solid fuel systems, put out the fire.
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If the pipe has burst, you may need to call out a professional.
The online directory checkatrade.com allows you to view a list of accredited plumbers in your area, with reviews and ratings.
But if you have home insurance cover, it’s worth contacting your provider first to see if you are covered and to discuss the next steps.