How to protect your property from Winter damage
Thu, 03/01/2013 - 11:13am
While the majority of people may dream of a white Christmas, wintry conditions can be a nightmare for landlords/property owners if they are not fully prepared. With severe winter conditions appearing to be increasingly standard fare in Britain, it is important to prepare and consider whether your property/buildings and are suitably equipped to cope with freezing temperatures, harsh winds and floods.
When preparing your property, there are a number of tips that can ensure you don’t get caught out by the cold snap. Firstly, confirm all pipe-work is insulated. This is a priority for property owners, whether it’s a shop building or a house, and there is no excuse for being unprepared due to the low price and ease of installation that pipe lagging incurs. This is important as pipes tend to freeze in the cold weather and then crack as they begin to thaw, leading to leaks and floods. Moreover, opening cupboards in medium to large rooms is a good tip as it allows warm air to flow around the (hopefully insulated) pipes. Turning the water supply off during periods the building will be empty is advisable, for example if you/your tenants will be out for a few days or shop is shut for Christmas can avoid a major mishap.
Although it may add to your monthly expenses, keeping the property’s heating on a low setting throughout the day can be very beneficial. This will help avoid pipework freezing, as well as preventing the build-up of condensation and mould which in the long run would cost even more.
An obvious, yet often ignored procedure is to get the central boiler serviced at least once a year by a GasSafe registered firm. This is because after long periods of it being obsolete throughout the summer/Autumn, it is inevitably more likely to break down at the coldest time of year, leaving you with unhappy tenants or a large bill added to the list of expenditures – if you don’t have the correct insurance cover!
Tim Downes, Senior Claims Manager at Lloyds, states: “At Winter, we tend to think less about our homes’ exterior and like to retreat indoors, however there are a number of essential checks that need to be carried out to see it through the bad weather.”
Checking the condition of the roof for cracked/broken tiles or chimney/pointing problems are key procedures. If there are any repairs required, it is important to hire a professional to make amendments.
In addition to this, it is sensible to ensure gutters and drain pipes are cleared of leaves/debris build up to reduce risk of blocks and overflows. If there are outbuildings surrounding the house, make sure the doors are securely fastened, and ensure any loose items/external light fittings are secure. Similarly, keeping on top of low hanging branches that could cause damage in high winds or storms is an important factor.
If these simple steps are followed, the chances of your house being unable to handle the severe change in weather will be reduced enabling a mainly scathe free winter. If you do have any queries regarding household/landlord insurance, please get in touch with your local Insurance Broker.