Don’t take a gamble with your heating

15 December 2008

Getting stuck without any heating over might seem an unlikely eventuality, but research shows this is one of the most common type of home emergency during the cold winter months.

According to esure, 30% of all households who called it about a home emergency over the past five years did so because of problems with their main central heating system.

Similar figures from Halifax show its home insurance division received more than 20,000 claims for burst and freezing pipes last year, at an average repair cost of £2,000.

And other research from found 77% of building and contents insurance policies do not include home emergency cover as standard.

The advice to households is to check if home emergency cover is included as part of your home and contents insurance. If it isn’t, then it might be worth bolting this on – contact your insurer to get a quote. This extra can be as cheap as a few pounds extra a month.

However David Rochester, head of underwriting at Halifax Home Insurance, says: "With home emergencies, prevention is certainly better than the cure, and much of the damage could be avoided if householders spent a small amount of time preparing for the bad weather."

To do checklist:

* Clear leaves or other debris from your gutters and drain pipes. This will reduce the risk of blocks and overflows.

* Check the condition of the roof, keeping an eye put for broken tiles, cracks in the chimney or problems with the pointing.

* Cut back low hanging branches that could cause damage in high winds or storms.

* Make sure you get your boiler serviced at least once a year by a CORGI registered gas professional.

* Your central heating and gas fires should also be checked regularly to ensure they are working safely and efficiently.

* Check that the loft is insulated properly and also has adequate ventilation.

* Keep the central heating set to at least 10 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.

* If your pipes do freeze then don’t be tempted to use boiling hot water to thaw them. Instead, apply gentle heat through hot water bottles or even towels soaked in warm water.

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