Welsh Water is urging customers to ensure they are prepared for any further cold snaps this winter by making sure their homes are protected.
Latest figures from insurance company Admiral suggest that many properties across Wales weren’t prepared for the ‘freeze-thaw’ weather conditions experienced across the country in December 2022. They are reporting that claims for burst pipes in customers’ homes were three times higher than in December 2021
Customers can protect their pipes from further cold snaps by lagging any exposed pipes in cold areas, such as outdoors, in attics or cupboards and in any buildings that may be empty for a few days. Welsh Water is offering free lagging kits to customers who sign up to the Get Water Fit calculator on their website.
Customers can also prepare for any issues by simply knowing where their indoor stop tap is. This will allow them to turn their water supply off quickly if the worst were to happen.
When a problem occurs on pipes in homes, it is the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord and so it’s important that people prepare their homes in readiness for cold weather to avoid costly bursts.
Noel Summerfield, Head of Household at Admiral Insurance said: “At Admiral we receive thousands of claims for burst pipes every year. In 2022 burst and leaking pipes were the reason for 84 per cent of all the escape of water claims we received.
“Burst pipe claims always spike following a period of freezing weather and the cold snap in December was particularly bad. In Wales, we had three times as many claims for burst pipes than in December 2021 and nearly eight times as many we did in December 2020, when the weather was milder.
“Having a pipe burst in your home is distressing and can cause a lot of damage. If the damage is extensive, it can take time for your property to fully dry out. Prevention is always better than cure, so it makes sense to do what you can to stop pipes bursting in the first place.”
The cold-snap and subsequent thaw that affected most of the UK in December 2022 resulted in a 300 per cent rise in burst water mains across Wales compared to the previous year, particularly affecting the south-west. The burst pipes were a result of ground movement during the thaw and resulted in a huge repair operation by Welsh Water as an estimated 650 colleagues worked for over 14 days, including the festive period, to restore water supplies to customers.
Further complications arose as the water pipes re-pressurised causing airlocks in the systems which needed to be delicately handled to avoid further problems.
Richard Colwill, Head of Water Services Distribution said: “The recent cold snap we experienced was particularly challenging for us as a company. Our teams worked around the clock to identify and repair the bursts and keep the disruption to customers at a minimum. But the scale of the problem meant that unfortunately some customers were left with interruptions to supply or at times no water.
“We have also seen an increase of reports of burst pipes on customers properties. So, we want to remind customers that although the weather is mild at times, we are not through the winter yet and there is still time to protect their homes from costly bursts.
"Our teams will continue to work 24/7 to keep things flowing, but we also need a little help from our customers, by making sure their homes and businesses are protected.”
Welsh Water is offering several lagging kits to customers to help them prepare, by wrapping their pipes before it gets cold again. And there are lots of handy hints and tips, together with advice and how-to videos, on the Welsh Water website.