Frozen water and burst pipe chaos for static caravan and holiday lodge owners: Don’t let it happen to you!

Last winter we at Leisuredays handled more burst pipe and escape of water insurance claims than ever before thanks to freezing temperatures and widespread and prolonged snow and ice.

This year we want to ensure that as many static caravan and lodge owners as possible don’t have to deal with the upheaval of the large scale damage that mother nature can cause over the winter, by explaining a few simple precautions.

It’s vitally important that your static caravan or lodge is properly prepared for winter and professionally “drained down” to avoid the danger of damage from frozen or burst pipes, and other cold weather risks. Unlike domestic homes which have very little externally exposed pipe work, and are occupied all year round, a holiday home is usually left long periods over winter to brave the elements, and because of this is much more susceptible to severe damage should the temperature drop dramatically.

How and why static caravans and holiday lodges are drained down

During the drain down process the mains water supply is disconnected, and all water in the holiday home’s running fresh water and waste water systems are flushed out and completely drained in accordance with manufacturer specifications, mainly using pressured air hoses to push any remaining water from the system’s U-bends. The reason this is done is because any water left in the system over winter could expand when frozen and severely damage or burst the water pipes, this water then melts and leaks into your caravan or lodge, meaning it isn’t just the water system that’s damaged but also your holiday home itself. If this happens when the holiday home is still connected to a mains water supply then the damage can be much more severe, as large amounts of water will escape into the holiday home over a long period of time.

Leave “winterising” your static caravan or holiday lodge to the professionals

Most holiday parks offer a ‘drain down’ service which is either performed by experienced park staff, or a plumbing or heating engineer who they have hired especially, and it is our recommendation that you leave the tricky task of draining down your caravan or lodge to the professionals (as described above), especially when you are leaving it for a sustained period during the winter.

If your holiday park remains open over the winter and you intend on continuing to use your static caravan or lodge you should attempt a quick drain down yourself at the end of each visit by turning off the mains water at the stopcock (pictured above), and then opening the caravan drain plugs, setting all taps to be fully open, flushing the toilet, and draining all water from sinks and basins. You could even add salt to any last drops of water in toilets and traps to prevent freezing.

However, if you’re leaving the caravan or lodge for more than just a few weeks we would reiterate our recommendation to have your static caravan or holiday lodge fully drained down by a professional to ensure all water is fully removed from all equipment.

As a further precaution you may also want to use the ‘frost setting’ on your heating system (pictured below). It’s not prudent to rely on this option alone though; issues with pilot lights, drops in pressure or failure in gas supply could stop the heating working. Also consider getting the heating system serviced before the winter.

Precautions you should take when leaving your caravan or lodge for the last time this winter

• Arrange for your static caravan or holiday lodge to be professionally drained down as described above.

• Unplug any electrical devices including large white goods.

• Remove any bedding, clothing or soft furnishings from the caravan or lodge completely or store them in a place where air can circulate to avoid damage from damp or mould.

• Prop open all internal doors and cupboards, and slightly pull out all draws to encourage air to circulate.

• Remove or hide from view any valuable items such as Televisions or Hi-Fi’s. Then leave curtains open so that any would-be thieves can see such items have been removed.

• Completely empty and clean any fridges or freezers and leave switched off with the door slightly ajar. Remember to drain any ice or chilled water dispensers built into your fridge.

• Ensure external vents are clear of debris

• Remove any food stuffs which might attract vermin (mice etc).

• Close and lock all external windows and doors.

• Lubricate door hinges and window locks with a dab of petroleum jelly to ensure they open smoothly when you return.

You could also ask your park about servicing your static caravan or lodge before the winter. This could include lubricating your unit’s corner steadies and hitch-head, checking underneath the structure for rust and examining the tyres, and also ensuring any gutters and downpipes are not obstructed. They may even offer a wash and wax service of your unit’s exterior panels to ensure they are protected against the winter elements.

By having your unit professionally drained down and taking all the other steps outlined above, you’ll have more peace of mind that when you come to use your static caravan or holiday lodge again in the Spring it will be ready and waiting for you, with no damage and no damp. The process of reconnecting the water, electricity and gas (if mains supplied) is fairly straight forward and will usually be performed by the park operator at your request.

It is worth reading your insurance policy to see how your insurer deals with burst pipe and escape of water claims over winter months. Leisuredays will shortly be issuing further advice to its policyholders by post and email.

32 comments on “Frozen water and burst pipe chaos for static caravan and holiday lodge owners: Don’t let it happen to you!

  1. I have always drained-down the caravan myself, including putting anti-freeze in all traps/u bends. Also blowing through the hot and cold pipework.Always been o.k. when returning in the spring. AM I COVERED UNDER THE TERMS OF THE POLICY?

  2. Similar to Mr.Bloomfield,I and all my caravaning friends have been competently draining down for years to protect our property.
    I thank you for you timely reminder but I have no desire to pay a “Profesional” to do something I have been doing for years.
    I think you should respond to all of us

  3. Thanks for your comments,

    You will be covered for escape of water and burst pipes. However the precautions we recommend are to avoid you paying a higher winter weather excess should such a claim occur.

    As long as water has been turned off at the mains and all equipment is fully drained down (except for a sealed central heating system containing antifreeze which has been professionally fitted and is maintained to the manufacturers’ specifications) you will avoid paying our £500 winter weather excess should you need to make a claim for incidents involving escape of water or oil, burst pipes, flood, storm or tempest that occur between 1st November and 15th March. We usually recommend a professional drain down service using pressurised air hoses to give peace of mind that every last drop water is removed from the system’s U Bends. We have no issue with individual holiday home owners “draining down” themselves, providing they are confident they can fully drain down all necessary equipment.

    Neil,
    Caravan Guard

  4. We need to be clear on this. If I drain down at the end of the season am I insured against frost damage? I use the van three or four times during the winter and the cost of getting in a professional each time to do the job would be more than the insurance.

  5. This Is our first time in this static caravan and I am getting conflicting information regarding this “drain down”We do not have a wet central heating system and the hot water is supplied by an instantantious water heater,after scrambling underneath I can only locate 1 drain off point which Is close to the main stop tap my intention Is to turn off,take out drain cock and put anti-freeze down drains-toilet,3 sink and shower will this suffice?
    Regards
    Philip

  6. Hi Phillip & Noelle,

    the most important thing is to ensure the water is turned off at the mains and that any water left in the system is blown out using a pressurised air hose.

    I appreciate it can seem a little complicated which is why we would suggest you speak to your park operator, as they will in most cases offer a drain down service or will give you advice on how your particular holiday home needs preparing for winter.

    If you you are an existing Leisuredays customer and have any further questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at neil.walker@leisuredays.co.uk

    many thanks,

    Neil
    Leisuredays

  7. Sir, thank you for your excellent advice. May I add one other matter – disconnect and remove your shower mixer bar and take it home during the winter. I have had 2 that have ‘blown’ in freezing condtions because of water retained inside the bar’s non-return valve. The first bar had been left fastened in situ and simply burst in the frost. The second I had removed, done my best to tip all water out, and then left in the caravan wrapped in two bath towels. When we returned to the van a few days later it had completely shattered. The temperature had dropped to minus 17 and froze water inside the non-return valve!!! Best wishes…. Neil

  8. Similar to George earlier. Whether you are draining down for the whole winter or you want to use the van in winter, I would seriously consider the Floe Drain Down tool. I am 35 years with statics and its brilliant to see a gadget that works. We bought one last season, watched the video and drained down the static in 15 minutes.
    Our so-called expert charged us £60 quid each year to drain and dismantled the shower so we couldn’t use it in winter. They have to dismantle it now because the way they do it, they can’t blow back through the shower block. What we have found now, is that you don’t have to take off the shower block because floe blows water out of the shower head the normal way, infact when you see the water come out of the shower you’ll understand.
    We have been to the van about three times over the winter and drained after each use. Each time we arrived we turned on the water and everything was fine. Floe cost us £24 and it’s ours for good. Honestly, forget the so called professional racket and do it yourself, dead easy. The website is http://www.keepfloeing.com

  9. if you wish to blow out your water system it cheep and easy buy a iflatable dingy pump from home bargins [or the like ]£4.99 undo pipe from mains into van open taps in van 1 at a time and pump a bit of gaffer tape or pipe conection will help close taps flush toilets and blow again open drains under van blow again close all tas job done i have a large van it takes 15mins .

  10. can some one please help me,im disabled and own a caravan in gisburn,im now on my own my partner left me and i dont know what to do about my van over the winter,i dont no how to drain it or what to do,the site wants £145 to do it an i cant afford that at this time of year,please if there is some one who can help me id appriciate it,i will pay you,but not that much,please get intouch,thank you xxx

  11. Hi Yvonne,

    we would definately advise going for a professional drain down service. Many parks will give you the option to either take up their drain down service or get in a third party company such as a plumber.

    You could perhaps get some quotes from local companies (if this is allowed by your park) and see if they are any cheaper, although without knowing the full details of your holiday home and park it’s very hard for us to advise on price.

    Another option would be to speak to neighbours on your park and see if they can help.

    best regards

    Neil
    Leisuredays

  12. Thank you for your advice,i will try that,i have rang some plumbers and they tell me that they dont do caravans, is that true x

  13. Hi Yvonne,

    we’d suggest speaking to your park and seeing if they recommend any local companies as some plumbers will work on caravans whereas others won’t.

    regards

    Neil
    Leisuredays

  14. Hi Neil.
    I am a qualified plumber and do loads of caravan draindowns. I charge £35. That includes. Draindown. Blowthrough with compressor. Antifreeze in toilets tpaps ect. Central heating antifreeze viscosity check. Top up extra cost, Its no big deal if i could get two a day to do would be well happy..

  15. Aidan,

    Could you please email me the details of your company as I would like to use your services next year. We have just purchased a static caravan at a site near Morecambe (having previously had a touring caravan so have no experience of ststic caravans)and they have just charged me £140 for the draindown you describe. If this area of the country is within your reach I am sure I could ask neighbouring caravan owners to use your company’s service.

    Graham

  16. First time static owner from July 2012, have spent most weekends in caravan uptil park closure on 14-01-13. Purchased a Floe Device after watching the video along with a £55 rechargeable compressor from Halfords and have been doing a drain down every week in 25 mins with complete peace of mind. Absolutely fantastic device even a beginner can use.Just one tip though, make sure you turn your boiler off each time before connecting your van back to the mains and allow the water to run through all taps and cisterns for a few minutes to avoid any airlocks in the cold and hot water systems. I have found that if i fail to do this, the boiler automatically cuts out and the warning light flashes and resetting the boiler can sometimes be troublesome. I am just advising this following personal experience. Now that i take this simple precaution, i have never had any further problems. Anyone else had similar issues?

  17. I have just purchased a static in heysham and just wondered if aidan who commented above was local to there as I would use him to drain my static in winter

  18. Hi Simon,

    Aiden should be able to see your post so I’m sure he’ll be in touch. Let us know if not and we’ll see what we can do for you.

    Thanks.

  19. Hi – Just bought a static and am a bit concerned about the draining down thing. It has been drained down but not blown through(yet – park politics – we had a man lined up
    who could have come on Saturday but the park said their man would do it for free – trouble is he can’t make it ’til Wednesday and minus 4 is predicted for Worcester(UK).We will put salt down the loo etc and consider anti-freeze(is that legal?) and leave a small electrical heater on overnight. Will that be okay until it is ‘blow through’?

    1. Hi Neil, if your park is going to be closed then as long as you have fully drained down, turned the water off at the stop cock, turned on and left open all the taps and showers, making sure nothing is obstructing the plugholes and you have flushed all toilets and drained the water from the cistern, then insurance cover will remain in force.
      We would not advise leaving an electrical heater on overnight when the caravan is not occupied due to the risk of fire.

  20. I have heated wire fitted which is wound around all pipes and ch . Just Forget all your worries , no need to drain down. Just the toilets and shower…10 minutes. There is a good fitter in north Wales, but they will come. Our Moselle cost £1500. Also includes automatic water turning off and panel inside to turn water off and on remotely. Superb set up

    1. Thanks for your comments. In terms of draining down it’s important to check your insurance policy to make sure you’re fully covered in winter if you haven’t fully drained down.

  21. I am a first time static caravan owner and am desperate to have my caravan drained down professionally. I am having a great deal of trouble, not so much l
    locating plumbers in my area (Worcester) but finding one who wants to drain down caravans. I am starting to feel quite concerned now as this mild weather can’t last much longer. Help, please if you can?

    Brenda

    1. Hope you manage to get some help soon Brenda. It’s worth speaking to your park operator to see if it’s something they can help with or if they have a company they can recommend.

    1. Hi, if you’re a Leisuredays policyholder, pages 13 and 14 of our policy booklet explain the winter weather precautions, but if you call our claims team they will be able to take more information from you and confirm what you can claim for. They are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and can be contacted on 01422 501 085.

  22. Hello. Can you please advise what to do when going to bed on a freezing night. Do you turn stopcocks off and open inside taps or just leave stopcock open.???

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