AS FREEZING temperatures arrive in Gwent, insurance firm NFU Mutual has offered top tips for homeowners to avoid a costly pipe burst.

Jon Cawley, the firm's head of claims, said: “Water damage from pipe bursts can result in a huge amount of damage to homes and ruin people’s precious belongings.

“However, there are simple steps homeowners can take to protect their properties, which can dramatically reduce the chances of pipes freezing."

The firm advises homeowners to:

  • Locate your stop tap. This will normally be located below your kitchen sink, or wherever the water supply enters your home. Make sure you can access it and close it easily.
  • Drain your system. If you’re planning on leaving your property unoccupied during the winter months, turn off the stop cock and drain the plumbing of both hot and cold water systems.
  • Ensure pipes are properly lagged. Well-insulated loft spaces get very cold in winter and so it’s important you give your water pipes extra lagging to help prevent them freezing and bursting.
  • Keep the heat flowing. Keeping the thermostat at a normal setting overnight or while your home is unoccupied will help to keep the building temperature above freezing.
  • Check your plumbing. Checking your pipes for leaking or dripping joints will help you to react to a possible problem or nip it in the bud.
  • Make sure you’re covered. According to NFU Mutual, one in four people don’t know if their policy protects their home in emergencies such as extreme weather. Check your policy to avoid the risk of expensive repairs.