England has awoken to its first ‘proper’ snowfall of 2013 today with more to come later in the day. The met office has issued an amber alert for severe weather for most parts of the UK with the worst of the weather affecting northern counties.

What can Brits expect over the next few days weather wise? Well, rain, sleet and snow according to Andy Page, Met Office Chief Forecaster along with ‘very low temperatures overnight [expecting] ice to cause some impacts too.’ Ice and snow are common causes of damage to property in the UK and so if you live in an area that has significant snowfall forecast then make sure not to leave any brittle of breakable items outside. Any damage done to property by snow may be covered under the ‘storm’ provision within buildings insurance policies but this should always be checked with the insurer first.

Furthermore, burst pipes due to freezing overnight or (less likely) during the day can also be a pain to deal with. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) burst pipe and leaking water damage could top £7 million every day during winter. The best way to solve this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. The ABI advises households to:

  • Ensure that loft water pipes and water tanks are insulated.
  • Know where your stopcock that turns of the incoming water supply is, and make sure that it works.
  • If you will be away from the home on holiday ensure that it is kept as warm as possible. If you are away for a long time it may be worth draining your cold water system.

If a pipe freezes:

  • Thaw out the pipe using gentle heat such as towels soaked in warm water or a hairdryer. Don’t use a heat gun or blow torch.
  • Remove furniture and carpet (where practical) near to the frozen pipe. This will minimise damage if the pipe bursts.

If a pipe bursts:

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock.
  • Switch off the central heating to avoid further damage.
  • Open all taps to drain the system.
  • Contact your home insurer for advice. Most provide 24 hour emergency helplines that will arrange for repairs to be carried out as soon as possible.

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