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14 December 2020

A few things to consider in making sure your home is prepared for winter

It’s been a tough year with many unexpected twists and turns along the way, but one thing we can definitely expect is the onset of winter. Now that winter is here, with lower temperatures and possibly freezing conditions, it is the time for a little basic property maintenance. If you act now, you may be able to avoid having to make a claim later.
 
To help you get organised, we’ve compiled a ‘to do’ list of hints and tips, outdoors and inside, based on some of the most common claims we see during the winter months…
 
Gutters

Make sure your gutters and drains are regularly maintained, clearing leaves, moss and debris so water can easily flow through. With increased rainfall, any blockages due to fallen leaves can cause serious problems for your drainage and sewer system, potentially causing damp problems inside and out or water entering your loft.
 
Roofing

Check your roof to ensure it’s kept in good condition. Replace any loose or missing tiles to prevent rainwater entering your loft space, and also to prevent loose tiles dislodging and potentially causing injury or damage. Also check areas of flat roofing, ensuring they are professionally inspected and renewed, if necessary, to prevent rainwater entering your property.
 
Trees

Make sure large trees near to your home are professionally maintained and pruned, and ensure any dead or loose branches are removed to prevent them causing damage in high winds.
 
Garden furniture

Store any free-standing garden furniture, such as BBQs, tables, chairs and parasols, inside a garage or shed, protecting them from being damaged by bad weather and preventing them from being stolen as the garden is used less frequently during the winter months.
 
External areas

Patios, decking and driveways prevent rainwater from draining away naturally, so check there are no areas where a heavy downpour could cause water to build up and flow towards your property.
 
Outdoor lighting

Check that outdoor lighting is in good working order, testing lights to ensure bulbs are working. If you don’t have outdoor lights, think about having them installed, as they provide useful lighting during dark morning and evenings, and help to deter thieves.
 
Chimneys

Have your chimney swept before you light the first fire of the season, to ensure there are no blockages. You should ideally do this at least once a year.
 
Central heating

Keep your central heating system and boiler regularly serviced and maintained by a professional fitter. Check the boiler pressure - depending on your boiler, it  should be around ‘one’. Bleed radiators to make sure there are no pockets of air trapped, which could cause the top of the radiator to be colder. Turn on your heating system for at least an hour a day.
 
Fire alarms

Check your smoke alarms are working. Although you should do this around the year, it’s particularly important now if you have a wood burner or open fire.  
 
Other tips:

Know where your stopcock is located so in the event your pipes freeze and potentially burst, you can turn off the water preventing damage to your property.
 
Keep an eye on weather warnings and regularly check reports from the Met Office.
 
If your home is at risk of flooding, move as many possessions as possible upstairs. If you are flooded, don’t enter the property until you are certain the electricity has been turned off, and don’t use any electrical items.
 
Remember, prevention is better than cure. So, while we are all busy putting up the Christmas decorations, make sure you’ve attended to all those property maintenance jobs that need doing to ensure you’re ready for the worst that winter can throw at us.