Preparing for bad weather

Man outside in winter

By following routine checks and maintenance on your home‚ you can feel safe and secure during the winter months.

Unnecessary risks should not be taken when checking your property, always seek professional help where appropriate.

Preparing for winter

  • Make sure you know where the mains water stop valve (main stop cock) is and you can turn it on and off
  • Ensure that gas appliances are regularly serviced and ventilators in rooms where they are used are not blocked
  • Clear drain gratings and get the chimney swept
  • Repair dripping taps
  • Check the roof for cracked or dislodged tiles
  • Check the gutters for cracks and debris
  • Bituminous felt flat roofs are prone to leaks/water damage and need regular checking‚ their general life expectancy is only 10 years
  • Repair fences and gates
  • Make sure tanks and pipes are properly lagged
  • Check that electric fires are properly guarded
  • Keep paraffin heaters away from doorways and draughts
  • Check that flexes on electrical appliances are undamaged and adaptors are not overloaded
  • Ensure that you have adequate insurance cover and your sum insured is up-to-date
  • Check your insurance premiums have been paid and that a valid policy is in force on your home
  • Read your insurance policy and keep it in a safe place in case you need it

What if a pipe freezes?

If the frozen pipe is part of the hot water system‚ call out a plumber.

Turn off the water at the mains. Apply gentle heat to the pipe from a hairdryer‚ hot water bottle‚ or cloth soaked in hot water. Never use a naked flame (eg blow lamp or heat gun). Start at the end of the pipe which is nearest the tap.

What if a pipe bursts?

  • Turn off the water at the mains. If the burst pipe is from a storage tank‚ turn off the tank stop valve.
  • If the flow will not stop‚ open all the cold taps to drain the system. Don’t open hot taps because the hot water system could collapse if pipes feeding it are frozen.
  • Turn off the central heating and switch off the immersion heater.
  • Call out a plumber.

Many insurance companies offer to put their policyholders in touch with approved local plumbers through the provision of a helpline. Age UK Household Policyholders are offered a 24-hour helpline to help in just this sort of emergency.

If you go away from home

Keep central heating or storage heaters set to come on when you are away, this will minimise the risks of tanks and pipes bursting through freezing.

Many insurance companies specify conditions if a house will be unoccupied for a certain amount of time. Always comply with these or it could seriously prejudice any claim. Get a neighbour or a friend to look inside your house whilst you are away and give them your contact number.

What happens if my house is damaged in a storm?

Whilst temporary repairs may be necessary (for example‚ using plastic sheeting‚ tarpaulins or hardboard as protection)‚ make sure you contact your insurance company as soon as possible before permanent repairs are carried out‚ as they may wish to inspect the damage.

In the meantime: clear any snow from the loft before it melts; remove loose debris that could fall; turn off the electricity at the main fuse box if water damage occurs.

Phone your insurance company straight away and keep all your receipts for any work undertaken for your insurance claim.

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