Six ways to prepare your home for winter

Six ways to prepare your home for winter

After a fantastic Indian summer, winter’s approaching and we’ve already seen some fairly serious rainfall and high winds across the British Isles.image_protecthome

But is your home prepared for the violent storms and freezing conditions the like of which we’ve experienced over the last few years? Last winter was one of the wettest on record, with tens of thousands of homes flooded while the previous one was one of the coldest in a century.

You need to ‘winterise’ your home now

If you don’t make the sort of effort needed to ‘winterise’ your property, you could end up paying a high price.

Many insurance companies refuse to pay out if they feel a home hasn’t been looked after properly and a certain level of maintenance carried out which could have prevented damaged occurring.

And even if a claim involving the effects of bad weather is met in full, you would still lose any no claims bonus you’ve built up and see your home insurance premiums rise, as just about any claim made means your subsequently seen as a higher ‘risk’ to insurers.

Additionally, many people lose money by not taking fairly simple measures to help cut heat loss from their home during the winter months.

What to do

Here are six things you should be thinking about doing if you’re property is going to be safe, sound and a little bit warmer when winter storms and cold inevitably begin.

1. Get the boiler serviced

Crucial to getting through the winter unscathed by the weather is having a boiler working properly. But many people neglect to maintain theirs then suffer terribly when it goes, so have your boiler serviced before the cold weather really kicks in (preferably once a year).

A regular service may also be required by your home insurer if they’re going to pay out on any claims involving boiler and pipe issues. A decent plumber shouldn’t charge more than around £50 for the service.

2. Check the chimney

The chimney is one part of a home’s structure that often goes unchecked for years as it’s simply not seen as something that needs attention.

Far from it however; a blocked, or partially blocked chimney, is a very common cause of house fires as the soot acts in a similar way to charcoal and once it’s lit, it’s very hard to put out. A good sweeping shouldn’t set you back around £100 to £150 pounds.

3. Roof tiles, fences, garden walls and trees

Take a good look around the garden and prune back any tree branches that are too close to your house or overhanging your neighbour’s property or garden.

Repair or replace any cracked or loose roof tiles and, if your roof looks at all ‘saggy’, get it looked at immediately by a builder.

Garden walls also need attention and any topping stones or loose bricks need sorting. Fences need to be secure with fence posts fixed as firmly as possible and any loose panels replacing.

According to the Association of British Insurers there were over 300,000 insurance claims involving tree damage, damaged roofs and destroyed walls and fences last winter.

4. Guttering, flashing and pointing

Check that that your home’s guttering is clear of leaves and isn’t leaking. Water leaking from gutters down walls and onto roofs is a common cause of damp.

If your flashing is looking dodgy, and pointing is crumbling, it needs fixing if you’re not going to suffer some seriously expensive damage from frost and damp.

And to keep your home warmer…

Reflective radiator panels:

It’s a simple ‘fix’, but one very much worth it. It’s estimated that placing a reflective panel behind a radiator can reduce heat lost through walls by between 50% and 60%, helping keep rooms much more toasty and reducing heating bills.

The panels cost as little as £7 at B&Q and are very easy to fit.

Lag exposed pipes:

This can be a bit of a dirty job, but well worth it. Crawl up into attic spaces (if you have to crawl!) and make sure your pipes are lagged. Lofts and attics can be much colder than the rest of a home and pipes running through them often freeze.

Do the same with exposed pipes in garages, cellars and any other un-heated rooms and spaces.

Policy Expert

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