Homeowners leave little to chance this winter following 2010 Big Freeze fiasco

Survey reveals preventative maintenance top priority this winter

Many home owners are leaving little to chance this winter when it comes to protecting their properties against inclement weather conditions is the positive message being taken away from a recent AA Home Insurance poll responded to by 8,000 people.

Despite a comparatively mild November to date, 39% of those polled by AA Home Insurance said they had already inspected the insulation around their pipes this year with many more indicating that they have plans to do so in the coming weeks.  This figures was slightly higher again among respondents in Cork and Galway, the counties worst affected by last year’s severe cold snap.  42% of Cork respondents indicated they have double checked their pipes while 45% of those in Galway indicated they have done the same.

Feedback obtained via the poll also reveals that some homeowners have gone beyond this with measures such as the installation of infra red lamps with digital thermostat over their water tanks and improved insulation of their attic space to avoid the misery experienced by more than 30,000 homes and businesses last winter.

Household claims arising from burst pipes during last winter’s “Big Freeze” amounted to €173.1m and commercial claims to €50.6m.  “Beginning with flooding in November 2009, domestically we’ve had four very costly weather events in the last two years and this inevitably takes its toll on the price of Irish home and motor insurance premiums.” Says John Farrell, Director of Insurance, AA Ireland.  “It’s really important to learn from last year and ensure that our homes are better equipped to cope with more extreme winter temperatures.” 

When quizzed on other winter home maintenance activities, 62% of those polled said they’ve had their boiler serviced within the last twelve months, a practice which can not only mitigate the need for repairs but which can also lead to improved fuel efficiency depending on your boiler type says AA Ireland.  48% of those polled also said they had bled their radiators recently to ensure they’re emitting heat properly.

Following this, 29% of poll respondents indicated they had tackled the dirty job of cleaning their chimney, a good practice to adopt according to AA Home Insurance who receives a number of claims each year relating to domestic chimney fires.  

“When smoke rises up the flue of a chimney, particularly during cold weather, it condenses coating the walls in highly combustible substance called creosote,” explains Farrell.  “When sufficient quantities of this substance build up inside the shaft, homeowners run the risk of a volcano-like fire igniting inside the chimney breast.”

Important at any time of the year not just winter, as many as 25% of those polled by AA Home Insurance said that they neglected to test their smoke alarm over the last while, something which should be a routine weekly check.  AA Ireland also advises households that a smoke alarm should be installed on every level of their home.

Not forgetting the roof, 24% of those polled by AA Home Insurance indicated that either they or a contracted professional had given their roof the once over to check for damaged tiles to ensure a leak free winter.

End

Notes to the editor;

Fig. 1 Which of the following measures if any survey respondents indicated they had done to prepare their home for winter? (Based on 8,496 responses)

I’ve had my boiler serviced  62%
I’ve had my chimney swept 31%
I’ve checked all my pipes are correctly insulated 39%
I’ve bled my radiators as required 51%
I’ve checked my roof tiles 26%
I’ve checked all my smoke alarms are working 75%
Other 6.1%

Fig. 2 Which of the following measures if any CORK survey respondents indicated they had done to prepare their home for winter? (Based on 1,120 responses)

I’ve had my boiler serviced 60.3%
I’ve had my chimney swept 37.3%
I’ve checked all my pipes are correctly insulated 42.4%
I’ve bled my radiators as required 47.6%
I’ve checked my roof tiles 25.6%
I’ve checked all my smoke alarms are working 77.4%
Other 5.8%

Fig. 3 Which of the following measures if any GALWAY survey respondents indicated they had done to prepare their home for winter? (Based on 400 responses)

I’ve had my boiler serviced 54%
I’ve had my chimney swept 48.7%
I’ve checked all my pipes are correctly insulated 44.9%
I’ve bled my radiators as required 54%
I’ve checked my roof tiles 21%
I’ve checked all my smoke alarms are working 72.8%
Other 6.5%

Fig. 4 Which of the following measures if any DUBLIN survey respondents indicated they had done to prepare their home for winter? (Based on 3369 responses)

I’ve had my boiler serviced 68.2%
I’ve had my chimney swept 15.8%
I’ve checked all my pipes are correctly insulated 31.3%
I’ve bled my radiators as required 51%
I’ve checked my roof tiles 24.7%
I’ve checked all my smoke alarms are working 73.8%
Other 5.7%