Snow thaw could cause rise in home claims

Martin Egan, national property claims manager at Direct Line home insurance, said: "If you do have a frozen pipe, turn the water off, drain the system and leave the taps open. Check the local weather report and if you are expecting high winds, lock your gates and put any garden furniture you can move into the garage. Nearly half of all weather related claims are due to roof damage. However, personal safety is paramount and if it is not safe to do so, do not attempt even temporary repairs."

Direct Line tips on how to thaw and protect condensing drain away pipes:

* The condensate pipe is a plastic pipe (black, white or grey), coming from the bottom of the boiler. If this pipe is less than 32mm in diameter and runs outside of the property or through a non-heated area then it should be fully insulated with waterproof lagging;
* Only attempt to thaw a condensate pipe that is at ground level and which is easily accessible to you. Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to thaw a condense pipe which is at height, without the assistance of a professionally trained engineer;
* A hot water bottle or heat wrap (like the ones that can be used to ease muscle discomfort) would be a suitable and safe way of thawing the condensate pipe. Hold the hot water bottle or warmed heat wrap around the pipe to thaw it;
* Once thawed, insulate the pipe with waterproof lagging. If it is not at ground level contact the installer in order to implement a permanent solution to prevent the condense freezing.

If a wind storm does strike:

* Get in touch with the insurer as soon as possible. Direct Line will usually pay for all emergency repairs that need to be carried out to stop the damage getting worse;
* Take photographs of all parts of the home damaged as a result of storms. It may help with the settlement of claims;
* Use a plastic sheet or tarpaulin to temporarily repair storm-damaged roofs.

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