Winter is almost here, and this means greater risks to your home.

Winter in the UK adversely affects homes, causing water pipes to expand and rupture meaning irrevocable damage. It has been reported that the most common type of homeowner insurance claim during the winter period is for the escape of water, because of burst water pipes.

How to protect your home during winter

In late autumn and during winter, regularly check pipes around the house for bulges or frost covering. A frozen pipe is not always easily visible. Turning off your mains water supply before leaving the house could consequently prevent wider damage caused by a potential burst pipe.

The main water valve in a home is what controls the water flow and in case of an emergency, every appropriate home occupant should be able to locate and easily access their mains water valve, or as it is also known as, the stopcock.

Stopcocks and your home

Traditionally brass stopcocks have been the control valve for a home’s mains water supply, however they are not always located in the easiest of places to reach and due to being susceptible to limescale damage, can be quite difficult to turn off in an emergency.

For older residents or those with varying abilities especially, this poses a huge problem, particularly during winter, when pipes are more prone to bursting.

There is however now a modern alternative to brass stopcocks, which is a UK manufactured, Surestop stopcock. Fitted in easy to reach places, the Surestop stopcock features a lockdown button, that can be simply and easily pressed to instantly stop the water supply.

There are no electrics or batteries involved, it works purely on the water pressure and it will not seize up or be affected by limescale – unlike brass. The Surestop stopcock is also available with a version that includes a discreet, remote lockdown switch, that could be fitted in a kitchen cupboard or surface area, for even easier access and visibility.

What to do if your pipe bursts:

Immediately turn off your mains water at the stopcock. If a Surestop stopcock is installed, simply press the lockdown button on the stopcock or if a version with the Surestop remote switch is installed, just flick its lockdown switch. If a brass version is installed and it has seized up and you or other occupants are unable to stop the mains water, seek urgent help from a qualified plumber.

Once the water supply is off and isolated, turn on the cold taps to release any water sat within the pipes and flush the toilet repeatedly. Do this exercise again for the hot taps, after turning off the heating system. This will finally drain the remaining water out of the pipes.

Urgently call a professional plumber who will be able to replace the section(s) of the burst pipe and consult with your insurance company.

For future protection, if a brass stopcock is installed, consider getting a Surestop Stopcock fitted. There will be no need to remove or use the brass version, but the Surestop model should be installed in an easy to access location.

Our winter checklist:

Regularly check pipes around the house for bulges or frost.

If leaving the house empty for an extended period of time or for a winter break, turn-off your mains water supply, as a precautionary measure.

Know where the stopcock is located and that all the home’s occupants also know where it is.

If a brass stopcock is fitted, make sure it has not been affected by limescale and seized up; for better and quicker protection and access, consider asking a plumber to install a Surestop version.

Insulate outside pipes that are often exposed to frost, as well as pipes running through cold loft spaces.

Make sure all appropriate occupants know what to do if a pipe does burst and how to react quickly.

This article has been written and produced by SureStop Ltd, a trusted partner of Care & Repair Cymru. Visit their website here:

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