Protecting your premises during winter lockdown

Winter-risk-advice-from-Allianz

Authored by Allianz

The Government announcement on 4 January of a further national lockdown came as yet another blow to individuals and business owners alike for a myriad of reasons. Many businesses, some of which had only recently restarted operations, were faced with closing once again, with premises standing empty.

During the winter months and during cold weather, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect unoccupied premises due to potential issues such as freezing pipes. National lockdown restrictions have added an extra challenge to undertaking robust risk management. However there are a number of measures which can be taken to avoid a costly claim. Some of these are listed below but visit our ‘Planning ahead for cold conditions’ for comprehensive guidance.

Leaving your property vacant

  • Don’t lower the heating too much but leave it on low (around 15˚C) to prevent existing water from freezing. Alternatively, you could drain the plumbing system entirely, though leave water supplies connected for any fire protection, such as sprinkler systems . If you’re considering doing this, you should seek professional advice.
  • Insulate water tanks in lofts and unheated spaces or open-sided buildings with high quality lagging.
  • Have someone keep an eye on your property, who’ll be able to contact you should they find a leak.

Watch out for frozen pipes

  • Tell-tale signs of a frozen pipe include no water coming from the tap, frost or ice on the outside of the pipe and if the pipe appears to be bulging.
  • If you discover a water pipe which is frozen but has not burst, take the following steps to prevent it from bursting and protect your possessions:

- turn off the stopcock

- remove any furniture or equipment which could be damaged

- open the tap closest to the area and begin gently warming the pipe with a hairdryer or hot water bottle

Planning ahead

  • Where possible, have a professionally qualified  plumber check your plumbing joints for leaks.
  • Review your insulation to protect your pipes from freezing.
  • Know where your water supply stopcock is located and exercise it from time to time, to make sure you can turn off the water in the event of an emergency.
  • Don’t forget any outdoor taps; either isolate the water supply to the taps or insulate with lagging suitable for outdoor use.
  • Review your fire risk assessment if you need to provide any additional or different heating; remember to inform your insurance intermediary.

Even after taking all necessary precautions , unforeseen events like blockages, accidental damage or exceptionally cold weather might cause damage to plumbing systems. Keeping stock, materials and equipment off the floor and as clear as possible from your mains water supply pipes and drains may reduce the extent of damage.

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