A guide to preparing your home for winter

If you’re putting on a hat, scarf and gloves to go outside, it must be winter again. But it’s not just you that needs to prepare for the cold weather – you’ll need to make sure your home can handle the falling temperatures and storms too.

Winter home preparation

 

Protecting water pipes


Frozen pipes are the number one problem for homeowners in winter. They can quickly create blockages which lead to built-up pressure and potentially burst pipes down the line. If this happens, water will escape and could cause extensive water damage. Pipes most at risk are those that are either outdoors, in the garage or in the loft.

These should be covered with insulation or ‘lagging’ which can be either cut to length or bought as pre-formed sleeves and wrapped around exposed areas. Inside the house, place fibreglass insulation between pipes and exterior walls.

Fixing frozen pipes


If a pipe on your property freezes, the first thing you need to do is turn off the inside stop tap (often referred to as a stopcock), which can often be found under the kitchen sink. Turning on nearby cold taps whilst keeping the stop tap off will help to relieve any pressure. Next you will need to thaw the frozen pipe slowly using towels soaked in warm water, hot-water bottles or a hairdryer on a low heat setting.

Never apply direct heat as this could damage the pipe. Should a pipe burst, cut your mains supply immediately to stop any more water escaping via the rupture and call a registered plumber.

Damage to your home caused by burst pipes should be covered under your home insurance. Remember in an emergency, you can call us on 0800 300 684 24/7, 365 days a year.

Heating your home

 

Your central heating system is comprised of a boiler, pipes and radiators. It’s important it all works efficiently and that your home is properly insulated, so the heat produced is not lost.

Making sure that your boiler is serviced annually will minimise the risk of a breakdown. Bleeding radiators every couple of months to remove trapped air will ensure they are working efficiently and reduce heating bills. If central heating isn’t enough in some rooms, consider a plug-in electric heater or a fuel-burning fire if you have the capacity. Bear in mind that electric heaters generally cost a lot in electricity bills whilst fuel-burning fires need a carbon monoxide detector in the room to warn you if gas levels caused by burning fuel become harmful.

Keeping hold of generated heat is the next challenge. Radiator reflectors are a good investment – sheets of foil stuck between the unit and the wall to ensure heat is not lost through the wall. Foam or brush-pile seals around doors and windows will close gaps and stop drafts, while simply closing curtains reflects heat back into a room. If you have wall cavities, check they’re insulated, while loft lagging will stop heat escaping through the roof.

Leaving your house unoccupied


If you're leaving your home for extended periods in winter it’s wise to maintain a warm temperature by leaving your heating on. This will help stop pipes from freezing. Make sure to check your policy documents to carry out any specific safety procedures whilst your property is unoccupied. Secure garden furniture to prevent theft or storm damage and clear out your gutters.

Ask friends or neighbours to keep an eye on your house - if you suffer a burst pipe they can let you know right away. Make sure they know where the inside stop tap and mains tap are, in case this occurs.

Clearing snow and ice


Heavy snowfall makes it tricky getting your car off the drive. Worse, when that snow melts it can refreeze and create hazardous sheet-ice. Keep a spade and wellies handy, so it’s easier to clear snow quickly in key areas. Salting or gritting walkways before bad weather hits also makes it harder for snow to settle.

Protecting your home from storms


Winds strong enough to cause damage to property are fairly rare in the UK, but if a severe weather warning is issued in your area it is a good idea to take some precautions.

Before the storm

Keep your guttering, drainpipes and overflow pipes clear of debris and check they’re securely attached to the building. Securely tie down your garden furniture and any other loose items in your garden, such as trampolines or children’s toys. Check loose branches or damaged trunks of trees on or near your property.

Charge up your mobile phone and have the home claims phone number to hand in case you need to call us. Have a torch to hand in case of a power cut. Listen to the radio and TV and follow any advice from the emergency services.

After the storm


If the storm causes damage to your home contact MORE THAN as soon as possible and take photos of any debris from storm damage as evidence. Take a good look at your roof and check for loose or missing tiles.

If you need emergency repairs to make your building weatherproof and secure, make sure you contact us as soon as possible.

What you’re not covered for


The top three most claimed for items that aren’t covered include:

  • Fences, hedges and gates that have been damaged in a storm
  • Pre-existing building maintenance issues brought to light by a storm
  • The cost of clearing fallen trees in your garden when they haven’t caused damage to your home.
What you’re covered for


If you need to make a claim following a storm, there are also many things you are covered for. These include alternative accommodation if your home is uninhabitable, and food losses from fridges and freezers incurred by power shortages. If you have Home Emergency cover and a domestic incident occurs which requires immediate help, we might be able to assist with securing your home with temporary repairs such as boarding up windows.

Find out how to make a home insurance claim and about what is covered in the case of a storm in your MORE THAN home insurance policy wording.

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