To save you money and inconvenience, now is the best time to get any home maintenance jobs covered. After the clocks go back, the winter months set in the days get colder and daylight gets shorter.
Take a look at Be Wiser’s tips on how best to prepare your home this winter.
Winter Is Coming
The clocks went back on Sunday, 27th October marking the end of British Summer Time (BST). Our thoughts should quickly turn to winter proofing our homes no matter how much we would like to cling on to the bright summer mornings and evenings.
Basic property maintenance helps to prevent small issues from turning into bigger problems for your property that could result in you having to make a claim on your home insurance. Keeping your home well maintained benefits you and your property in the long term.
Top Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather
There are many things you should do in the autumn months before the poor weather starts. Winter is one of the most common times for insurance claims due to the changes in the weather. That’s why our list of checks and tips can help you protect your home;
How Should You Prepare If You’re Going Away? – If you are lucky enough to take a break during the winter months make sure your property is protected before you go.
1. Keep the Central Heating On – Keeping the property at a minimum temperature of 15C (59F) is a good idea especially if outdoor temperatures drop below freezing. It may be worth your while to set the central heating to turn on for a short period each day to prevent pipes from freezing.
2. Ask Someone To Check Your Home – Whilst you are away, asking a family member or neighbour to check for burst pipes, leaks or general security of the property whilst you are away can bring you peace of mind.
3. Burglary Checks – When the clocks go back the evenings are darker earlier which creates an increased opportunity for burglaries. By installing a light timer in your home can keep burglars guessing. Remember: sharing your travel plans on social media is not advisable as this can let opportunists know your house will be empty.
4. Royal Mail Keepsafe Service – This is a paid for service you can take out whilst you are away. The Royal Mail will retain your post and deliver it once you have returned home.
5. Check Your Current Policy – Generally speaking if your property is ‘unoccupied’ for more than 60 days in a row your property may no longer be covered by your insurer. The best thing you should do is review the terms and conditions of your policy or contact your insurer before leaving your property unoccupied.
Prepare Your Garden for The Winter - Your garden is the area most exposed to winter weather so fixing any current damage to fences, gates, roofing or sheds is a good start.
You should also take the following preventative measures;
1. Check Guttering, Gullies and Drains – There is a risk of water damage and flooding if any of these areas are blocked. Keeping them clear from debris can reduce this risk greatly. Furthermore, if ice or snow arrives this can provide additional weighty problems to the guttering. If possible clear the ice or snow to prevent blockages or cracks. Salt and warm water is a good solution for unblocking troublesome drains.
2. Overhanging trees and branches – If a tree is already damaged and causes damage to your property, this may affect an insurance claim. It is important to remove overhanging branches in your own garden, speaking to the local council to remove from the street or asking your neighbours to remove from their garden.
3. Garden Furniture – Packing away garden furniture is important to keep it safe from weather damage but also to prevent it from causing any damage due to strong winds. Rolling up garden hoses and keeping them inside is also advisable.
4. Lights – Check that all outside lights are working to provide the optimum safety around your property. You could even add a light to make it safer.
5. Fences – Most home insurance policies don’t cover storm damage to gates and fences, so make they are in a good condition before the winter.
6. Check Your Roof – To avoid building damage, secure loose tiles that could become dislodged if storms or strong winds occur. Make sure aerials, satellite dishes and/ or solar panels are securely fixed.
Home Insulation – Insulating your home will not only keep you warm but could also keep your energy costs down.
1. Bleed Your Radiators – Bleeding your radiators can releases trapped air that is stopping the heat from circulating properly. This is something worth checking regularly, but particularly if you notice that your radiators are colder at the top than at the bottom.
2. Insulate Your Water Tank – Insulating the top and sides of your water tank can save energy and money. Using sheets or a thermal jacket filled with glass fibre matting could be effective.
3. Draught Excluders – Getting rid of draughts is important for keeping the heat inside your home. Seal holes around cables and pipes passing through walls, blocking draughts from windows, internal and external doors, skirting and loft hatches. Use adhesive tape, draught excluders, letterbox brushes, chimney balloons and keyhole coverings to prevent a chill.
4. Lag Pipes – If you have exposed pipes, consider insulating them using waterproof foam lagging to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
Materials for lagging are available to buy from DIY stores. Another tip would be to put the installation foam on top of the pipes as opposed to underneath them.
5. Attic and Wall Insulation – Did you know that a quarter of your heat can be lost through the roof? You may be able to get financial assistance to repair your roof through a Government scheme. Check with your local authority to find out if you are eligible for assistance.
Other Handy Tips
• Check You Are Covered – Hopefully you won’t need to make a claim on your insurance, but it is best to make sure your policy is up to date with the necessary cover that meets your individual needs.
• Put Together an Emergency Kit – Compiling important documents, candles, matches, a torch with spare batteries and a first aid kit is a good precaution to make. It may sound extreme, but being left in the dark with no water, heating or electricity is a daunting prospect.
Also consider if snow showers arrive and you live a distance from the shops it is worth keeping extra food supplies to keep you going.
• Get Your Boiler Checked or Serviced – Finding a Gas Safe registered plumber to get your boiler serviced is essential as boilers are one of the main causes of home insurance claims and problems during the winter.
• Keep Your Central Heating on – This sounds like it will be costing you more money but trust us, it’s worth it! Turning the heating off whilst you are out of your house could cause your pipes to freeze and create frost damage across your home.
Setting your thermostat to around 15C as a minimum and opening all internal doors should ensure the whole of your house is well heated.
• Locate Your Water ‘Stopcock’ and Gas Supply – A stopcock turns the water off for the whole property. It is vital that you know where it is situated and how to turn it off in case of flooding, damaged pipes or problems with your central heating.
• Close Blinds and Curtains – To prevent heat loss through your windows, close your blinds and curtains as soon as you get home in the evenings to trap in the heat. Closing internal doors that lead to unheated rooms will also help. It is worth checking your windows if there is bad paintwork, gaps or damaged seals these could cause the windows to swell, jam or rot.
Professional Insurance Advice
If you need home insurance the best advice we can give you is to shop around, but the Be Wiser website is a fantastic place to start to help you find the right cover for your needs.