Boiling Point: Churchill urges Brits to prepare for winter now

8th November 2012

  • Nearly half (45 per cent) of householders in the UK fail to service their boiler annually
  • 20 per cent of Brits have experienced boiler failure

Churchill Home Insurance has revealed that only 55 per cent of UK householders service their boiler every year, while 31 per cent have had to put their hand in their pocket to pay for a plumber to fix their boiler over the last year, following a breakdown.

40 per cent of those who experienced a boiler failure said that the last time their boiler broke down, they had to boil a kettle for hot water, while 17 per cent had to buy an electric heater. This shows that Brits are being driven to risk scalding themselves due to boiler breakdowns, as well as incurring an additional expense to try and keep warm.

According to the research, 16 per cent of women and eight per cent of men don't know what "lagging" is and therefore do not lag their pipes at all, which can lead to pipes freezing and associated problems.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, commented, "Broken down boilers can cause havoc with householders' lives during the winter, so it is essential to plan ahead to avoid potential problems. Prepare your water pipes for icy weather by insulating them and make sure you know where your stopcock is so you can turn it on and off, if required."

Churchill Home Insurance has the following tips to help householders ensure their property is not vulnerable to the winter weather this year:

  • Prepare boiler pipes for icy weather by insulating them with lagging. Do not forget the corners. You can do those bits by cutting a 45-degree angle in the lagging, and remember to cover all of the joints with duct tape. Make sure you have lagged any pipes you might have outside.
  • Check to make sure your loft insulation is thick enough. It should be around 10 inches deep.
  • Try and insulate your home - fit draught proofing to any gaps in windows or doors and make sure wall cavities are well insulated.
  • Find your main stopcock and make sure that you can turn it on and off.
  • If you have any taps that have a tendency to drip, now is the time to fix them.
  • Check to make sure your boiler has been serviced by a Gas Safe professional.
  • If you're away from home for a few days during the cold weather, keep your heating on at a low level - at about 15 degrees - throughout. If you are away for a longer period of time it might be wise and more cost-effective to shut down the system completely, turn off all the mains stopcocks and drain down pipes, toilets and radiators.
  • If your pipes do freeze, turn the water off, drain the system and leave the taps open.
  • A good way to thaw out frozen pipes is to carefully use a hairdryer (if safe to do so) or to use a hot water bottle tied to the pipes with a towel. If you have found a leak, put something underneath to collect water. Never use a naked flame, such as a blow torch, to thaw your pipes as this could cause some serious damage to the pipes.
  • As a Churchill Home Insurance customer, If your pipes have burst and you need help, you can call our 24-hour Emergency helpline and our team will talk you through what to do.

Churchill Home Insurance 24-hour Emergency helpline: 0845 301 6238

For further information, please contact:

Rachel Watkinson
Churchill Press Office
Tel: 0208 313 5741

Notes to editors:

Churchill home Insurance commissioned Opinium Research to interview a random sample of 2,013 adults aged 18+ via online omnibus 19th to 22nd October 2012. Surveys were conducted across the country.


Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK’s leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.

Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200300 or visiting