Last winter was one of the coldest this county had seen for over 30 years. The Met Office reported in the spring that the average temperature during the winter was approximately 1.5°C about 2°C lower than normal. With this in mind, it makes sense to ensure that you protect your property from server winter weather conditions.
High winds during autumn and winter can cause a lot of damage to your property. Ensure that your roof tiles are secure. This will minimise the change that you will experience water damage in the loft/roof space. Clear your gutters and drains regularly of leaves and dirt. A blocked gutter can cause overflow, resulting in flooding on the roof and ultimately damp problems. Check that sheds and other outbuildings are weather tight, these can often be overlooked, but it is quite common to keep expensive equipment in a shed or garage. You should ensure that any satellite dish or TV aerial is fixed securely to avoid damage. Gardening is no fun in the winter, but don’t leave it unmaintained. A falling tree could cause a lot of damage your property or neighbours. Keep trees well maintained, remove dead or damaged branches and ensure they are not too near buildings and overhead cables. Maintain fence panels and gates, to prevent them from flying off in high winds.
It is not just the external parts of a property that needs attention during the winter period. Burst pipes and water damage are a common problem during the winter. As the temperatures drop, pipes can freeze and burst. Collapsed ceilings, damaged furniture and electrical appliances can be the result.
If visiting friends and family over the winter period, particularly over Christmas, don’t completely switch off your heating. While you may save some money on your heating bills, this is one of the main causes for frozen pipes. Instead leave you’re heating on a low temperature (e.g. 10°C) and you will substantially minimise the potential damage to your property. If leaving your property for a long period, simply turning off the water is not sufficient. There will still be a lot of water in the system, which can cause damage. Get a plumber to drain the water in the pipes and central heating system to remove the risk completely.
Your boilers and heating systems should also have annual check-up, to ensure they are safe and working properly. This will prevent them from breaking down while you are away, leading to frozen pipes. As well as ensuring your heating is left on and working properly, you should check your insulation levels, particularly in your cavity wall and loft insulation. You should also make sure that your pipes and tanks are well lagged.
Burglars are carried out during the Christmas period by opportunists as often a home is left empty, or your defences are down. Well secured entry points will discourage all but the most determined burglars.
Some insurers exclude risks such as theft and malicious damage after a property has been left unoccupied for so many days, or if security checks aren't followed. It is common for exclusions and restrictions to apply to home insurance. Ensure you understand your policy fully and your obligations regarding any security, heating and occupancy. For complete peace of mind, speak to a local insurance broker that will be able to provide advice and guidance on what insurance policy is best for you and help with any actions you should take to ensure you comply with your policy.