Snow, ice, strong winds and rain – as we approach the official beginning of winter, the changing weather conditions and drop in temperature can cause damage to your home. However, by taking a few simple steps, most problems can be rectified before they even begin.
We have put together a checklist of steps you can take to prepare your home for the colder months ahead:
- Test Your Heating
This may seem like an obvious one but start to think about whether your radiators need bleeding. You will know if they need bleeding because when your heating is on, the radiator will be cold at the top and hot at the bottom. Check that your boiler is working and dust off the vents and filters. It may also be worth having your boiler serviced by a Gas Safety registered engineer.
- Keep Your Heating on a Timer
During the colder months, it’s a good idea to keep your heating system on, even if you go away. Use the timer on your heating system to ensure it comes on and switches off. Ideally, you should heat your home for at least one hour a day. This helps to keep your heating system running smoothly.
- Locate Your Stop Cock
If the water in your pipes does freeze, pressure can build up behind the blockage which can cause the pipe to burst. If this does happen, it’s vital that you know where your stop cock is so you can shut off the water at the mains and prevent any flooding. The stop cock is normally found in your kitchen, under or near your sink. Look for a tap or a lever on your copper pipes and turn it clockwise to switch it off.
- Check Your Roof & Guttering
Roof slates and tiles can become loose throughout the year, which could lead to leaks through the winter. It may be a good idea to get your roof inspected by a professional to make sure there are no areas that need fixing before the colder months. Clear any debris and leaves from your gutters to prevent a build-up which could result in icy, heavy gutters falling down when the cold weather starts.
- Prepare Your Outside Space
Making sure your garden is clean, clear and ready for winter is a good idea. Secure anything that could be swept away by high winds such as greenhouses, plant pots, wheelie bins and trampolines, as these could potentially cause damage not only to your own property, but also your neighbour’s property or vehicle. Make sure any garden furniture is safely stored away too. If you have any plants that are vulnerable to cold weather or frost, or things such as hanging baskets that can pose a risk if they fall, you should bring these inside as well.
- Secure Your Shed
Garden sheds can take a battering over the winter months, so it’s important to make sure doors and windows are properly shut and if possible, locked.
Sheds and outbuildings are usually covered by your buildings insurance for fire, flood and storm damage. However, garden items typically aren’t, as these tend to come under a contents insurance policy instead. It is worth bearing in mind that expensive items such as power tools and bicycles may not be covered as standard. Typically, any items worth more than £1,000 should be individually listed on a contents insurance policy.
- Make Sure Your Property Is Adequately Insured
One of the most important things you can do to protect your property when heading in to winter is to make sure you have home insurance in place, and that you understand what cover is provided under your policy. It’s also worth ensuring that you know who you need to contact, and what you’ll need to provide to your insurer if you do need to make a claim.
The winter months bring darker nights which lead to higher crime rates, plus the weather starts to decline. Building and contents insurance policies usually cover any financial loss resulting from a storm, with the exclusion of some Acts of God.
Some home insurance policies include alternative accommodation cover too. This is a part of your policy that comes into force if your property becomes uninhabitable due to incidents such as a flood, fire or damage caused by a storm. It means that your insurance policy provider will help to find you alternative accommodation and cover the costs, so you are not left without a roof over your head while the problem is sorted out.
Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says “In some cases, insurers can refuse to pay out for a weather-related claim if they deem that the homeowner hasn’t maintained their home to a sufficient standard. This could be, for example, where the insurer thinks that roof tiles had already been damaged by general wear and tear. In the unfortunate event that you do need to make a claim, you should report it as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours of the event happening, as this is what some insurers expect. You should always check with your policy provider before arranging any repair work. Some insurers will allow alternative companies to carry out repair work, but you may need to agree costs with them beforehand.
If you would like to discuss your home insurance policy and to make sure you have adequate cover, please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”