house covered in ice and snow for winter

Fewer winter maladies are more irritating than frozen pipes. This can be especially true in student accommodation where tenants are away for prolonged periods of time and landlords are forced to deal with the implications of icy pipes over the winter months. 

We’ve compiled a list of our top tips to avoid frozen pipes and to help you keep your asset in prime condition.

Why do pipes burst?

Water in any case expands when it freezes causing pressure to build up against the walls of the pipes. As the pressure builds up, the walls of the pipes can buckle and burst, making them unsafe. 

Pipes are often more vulnerable depending on their shape, age and if they have any existing evidence of corrosion. 

What temperature do pipes freeze at? 

Pipes can freeze at the most inconvenient of times and at an alarming rate. It only takes six to eight hours for pipes to freeze once temperatures plummet to 0 degrees and below. 

The internal temperature would have to fall to zero degrees or below for the freezing process to start. With this considered, the property will most likely be vacant or the heating will be off for a longer period of time than usual. 

Given the current economic climate, everyone is desperately trying to keep heating costs low. However, keeping your heating off for long periods of time in the cold weather could result in frozen and then burst pipes. 

Frozen Pipe. Rusted pipe

Tip tips to avoid your pipes from freezing 

Here are our top tips to help prevent your pipes from freezing through the winter months. 

Have your boiler serviced 

Get ahead of winter and get your boiler serviced. If you received a call from your tenants mid-winter with the news the boiler has packed up, you could be looking at a heavy bill at the wrong time. 


Having a professional give you the thumbs up ahead of the cold months will give you the assurance that your boiler is in good working order.

Insulate your rental property 

Older properties will be more susceptible to drafts and single glazing. The investment of having double glazing installed could reduce your overheads dramatically. Look to the loft as well. The new rental reform 2022 suggests that your energy rating, although currently acceptable to receive the rating E, will be upgraded to rating C in 2023. 


By checking your roof insulation and all vents, doors, windows and floorboards, you’ll be more likely to hit this grading. 


Check out our Advice Centre for more information on how you can improve your energy rating.

Know where your stopcock is 

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people can’t locate their stopcock in times of crisis. The stopcock allows you to control the water flow throughout the property. This may come in handy if the pipes freeze. 


You’ll need to stop the water flow while the plumber works on defrosting them.  Similarly, if the property is going to be vacant for a while such as over the Christmas break you can stop the water flow altogether and help prevent frozen pipes. 

Keep the heating running on low 

We know this will be a pain point for landlords as they won’t want to run the heating if they don’t have to. The payoff for keeping a constant source of warm water flowing through the pipes is avoiding costly plumber callouts mid-winter. 

Burst Pipe after pipe freezing

Things to avoid when de-freezing your pipes

Don’t pour boiling water down the pipes

You may cause more damage than you started with if you pour boiling water down the pipes. The sudden change in temperature in the frozen water can cause the ice to crack and expand in any existing volume further. 


Don’t use a naked flame or propane to defrost the ice 

The direct heat from both of these can cause permanent damage to the pipes as well as increase the risk of fire in the property. 


Know your insurance policy unoccupancy period 

As the majority of pipes freeze when the property is vacant, you need to be fully aware of your insurance policy’s unoccupancy period. 

All insurance policies will only offer cover for a short period if the property is empty even if your tenant is on holiday or is a student that has returned home. Once this time has passed you will only be covered for limited perils and frozen pipes and burst pipes will not be included. 

In addition, when the property is vacant there will be policy conditions that need to be adhered to. These include turning off the water, maintaining a temperature of 15 degrees minimum and regular checks on the property. As a landlord, you should make your tenant fully aware of these requirements to avoid you having any costly repair bills 

Last year the average cost of weather-related home insurance claims for burst pipes was £9,300 says ABI (The association of business insurers). We want to make sure you never have to make that claim with CIA landlord insurance with these tips.

However, if you do find yourself in a situation where your pipes have burst, feel reassured that you have a strong policy on your side. Get in touch with CIA today or give us a call on 01788 181 670 and we’ll get your policy started.

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