How shops, restaurants, and other small businesses can avoid frozen pipes this winter

By SME Insurance

Posted 02/02/18

Frozen pipes can be a big problem for small businesses in chillier weather; especially if there are days when the premises will be empty. It’s important to take measures against frozen pipes as they could lead to a build-up of water pressure and burst, causing significant damage to your business –

How much does it cost to fix frozen pipes?

The average claim costs £7,500 [1]. SMEi’s simple guide will help you take the steps needed to avoid frozen pipes this winter.

Don’t Turn off Your Heating

For some of us it may feel counterintuitive to leave the heating on when we’re not going to be there due to the cost, but leaving it running in cold weather could save you money in the long term and help you to avoid frozen pipes and damp. It’s recommended that you programme your thermostat to come on when the temperature drops below 12 degrees [2].

Insulate Your Pipes

Using lagging to insulate all exposed pipes is a simple way to protect them from freezing, however, it is not a guaranteed measure so be sure to take further precautions. You can also insulate the top and sides of your cold water tank [3] [4].  

Take Care of Taps, Fittings and Cisterns

A leaking tap could cause flooding if the pipe below freezes, so make sure to repair anything that drips before the colder weather arrives. In contrast, if you’re actually on the premises then running the cold taps every so often could actually prevent the pipes from freezing – just make sure to turn them off [5]. If you have an outdoor tap make sure that it’s drained by switching off indoor taps and leaving it running until it stops. You could also turn off the supply to the tap if possible [6].

Locate the Stopcock

Make sure you know where the main stopcock is and check that it’s working correctly and is easy to turn on and off. You may be able to prevent flooding if pipes do burst, as long as you can close the stopcock immediately and turn on a tap to drain excess water [7].

Minimise Drafts

Check the seals around doors and windows to minimise draughts coming in from outside, which would make it even harder to maintain the temperature of the building and prevent pipes from freezing [8].

Have Your Boiler Serviced

Boilers are put under extra strain during the colder weather. If the condensation discharge pipe freezes it could stop working completely – further exacerbating the problem. You should have your boiler serviced annually to ensure that it’s up to scratch [9] [10].

What to do if Your Pipes are Already Frozen?

It’s important to take action quickly to prevent extensive damage. Turn off your stopcock immediately to prevent a build-up of pressure, as this could lead to burst pipes [11]. Locate the frozen pipe and thaw using a hair dryer, heat lamp or hot towel - make sure taps are turned on to relieve any pressure that builds up.  If this fails call a plumber immediately – the situation could get worse the longer you leave it and it’s important to prioritise flood prevention [12].

Find out more about the shop insurance polices we offer and about getting a quote.

Sources

[1] Zywave, Inc – How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter, 2018

[2] Zywave, Inc – How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter, 2018

[3] http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

[4] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8451628.stm

[5]  http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/you-and-your-home/be-prepared-for-winter/be-prepared-for-winter

[6] https://www.brokerbriefcase.co.uk/contentdetails/7025/  

[7] https://www.southernwater.co.uk/Media/Default/PDFs/FrostAttack.pdf

[8] Zywave, Inc – How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter, 2018

[9] http://www.selby.gov.uk/frozen-pipes-and-central-heating-problems

[10] http://idealboilers.com/blog/how-often-do-you-need-a-boiler-service

[11] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8451628.stm  

[12] http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/house-home/home-hacks/what-to-do-if-your-pipes-freeze-this-winter-11364236201565   

Posted 02/02/18

Author: SME Insurance

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