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14 December 2020

Make sure your commercial premises are ready for winter

It’s been a tough time for business in 2020 as the effects of the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn have hit hard. Trading conditions continue to be difficult, with cases of coronavirus on the increase, regional lockdowns and curtailed movement causing ongoing problems. Now, cold weather is on the way, causing more potential problems for business.
To avoid further misery and having to make unnecessary insurance claims, we advise carrying out a few basic maintenance checks on your property or premises, ensuring everything is safe, functioning and watertight. While regular maintenance is essential for all buildings, it’s particularly important in the case of vacant or empty buildings.
To help, we’ve compiled a basic checklist based on some of the most common claims we see during the winter months:

Make sure guttering 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 the roof space.

Check roofing regularly and ensure it is in good condition. Replace any loose or missing tiles to prevent rainwater entering the roof 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.

Make sure large trees near to your premises 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 freestanding furniture in the grounds, such as tables, chairs and parasols, inside a garage or storeroom, protecting them from being damaged by bad weather and preventing them from being stolen as external areas are 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 premises.
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.

Have your chimney swept, particularly important before lighting the first fire of the season, to ensure there are no blockages. This should ideally be done once a year.
Central heating

Keep the central heating system and boiler regularly serviced and maintained. 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. Ensure the heating system is turned on for at least an hour a day.

Fire alarms

Check all smoke alarms are working. Although this should be done regularly throughout the year, it’s particularly important at this time if there are wood burners or open fires in the premises.  
Other tips:

Know where the stopcock is located so in the event pipes freeze and potentially burst, the water can be turned off, preventing damage to your property.
Keep an eye on weather warnings and regularly check reports from the Met Office.
If your premises are at risk of flooding, if possible move as many possessions as possible to a higher level. 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. Now is the time to carry out these basic property maintenance checks, ensuring your premises are ready for the winter.