exploding towel-rail damage

I've just spent the weekend driving around the country photographing and writing reports on frost damaged second homes. The result of exceptionally cold weather in SW France over the past three weeks that have seen temperatures remaining sub-zero for 10 days or so.

We may be further south than the Riviera but when it gets cold here, it gets really cold. Minus 15°C in parts of the Aveyron, Tarn and Lot departments with daytime temps rarely above -5. This wreaks havoc with boilers and radiators that haven't been purged for the winter. In second homes, closed up and untouched since the summer, the damage is serious. Strangely enough, those which are fitted with plastic piping (in place of copper) are the worst hit: the plastic pipes are fine but radiators and towel rails have taken the strain and literally exploded! In houses where old copper pipes are exposed it is they which have burst, leaving relatively expensive radiators undamaged.

The lessons are clear but the solutions less so. Although exceptional, this sort of cold spell is likely to be repeated in the future. Second home owners should make sure that immersion heaters, radiators and pool plumbing are purged of water at the end of the summer.

Those hoping that their insurance will cover all the damage should think again. Most insurance companies will not fork out a red centime for any damage where there is even a hint of negligence ... and leaving a property unheated in winter with radiators full of water is negligence itself. It often depends on the policy you have signed with the company.

What's needed here is a link to Cheap French Insurance ... but it doesn't exist yet! All I can do is to exhort second-home owners in France to contact their insurance companies immediately and revise all their property policies.