As the UK braces itself for more cold weather, farmers and rural homeowners are being urged to prepare their homes for plummeting temperatures.

Statistics from NFU Mutual suggest last winter took its toll on rural homeowners with an average £4,000 claim for repairing damage from burst pipes and the resulting escape of water.

The rural insurer also warn that some of the plumbing in many properties may have been critically weakened by last winter’s freeze.

Matthew Scott, chief claims manager at NFU Mutual, said: “Escape of water causes a huge amount of damage to properties throughout the year but homeowners should be particularly aware of the damage a cold snap could do to their home.

“Prevention is always better than the cure and protecting your plumbing before a damaging drop in temperature could save you a great amount of distress, inconvenience and cost.”

The rural insurer and loss adjusters Cunningham Lindsey have created a winter action plan based on the most effective methods of avoiding a burst pipe disaster during cold weather.

1. Locate your stopcock
This will normally be located below your kitchen sink, or wherever the water supply enters your home. Make sure you can access it and close it easily.

2. Drain your system
If you’re planning on leaving your property unoccupied during winter, take a few moments to turn off the stopcock and drain the plumbing of both hot and cold water.

3. Lag above pipes in your loft.
Well insulated loft spaces will get very cold in winter and so it’s important you give your water pipes extra lagging to help prevent them freezing and bursting.

4. Maintain central heating
Keeping the thermostat at a normal setting overnight or while the property is unoccupied will help to keep the building temperature above freezing.

5. Check your plumbing
Checking your pipes for signs of freezing or bursts such as leaking or dripping joints, will help you to react to a possible problem or nip it in the bud. Asking tenants to do the same will help to protect rental properties too.