Preparing A Property For The Winter Months
Winter weather can play havoc with homes. In fact, more than half of the buildings insurance claims made during the winter months of 2011/12 happened as a direct result of adverse weather, compared with just 35% in the previous year. It is vital to adequately prepare the home for the impact of winter which, in the UK, can be unpredictable and harsh, especially in the wake of such a mild summer. For both homeowners and landlords looking to advertise a property online over the winter months whether for sale or rent, it is crucial to ensure that relevant checks have been made and maintenance has been carried out on the areas which are most likely to be affected. The following guide provides a run-down of the areas of a home that are most at risk of being damaged in winter, and act as a handy checklist for anyone who needs to prepare a home during this time.
One of the first and most vital areas of a house needing constant checks and maintenance during the cold and wet winter months is the roof. A visual check should be performed to make sure that there are no slipped, cracked or loose tiles, as strong winds could dislodge these completely from the roof and cause more problems for the attic or the rooms directly underneath. Chimney pots and the area surrounding the chimney should also be checked, as well as any TV aerials or satellites which may be up there; these can often come loose in the wind, so it’s important to tilt them back to their original position every once in a while.
Gutters and Pipes
Moving on from the roof, the gutters and the pipes are areas which can become seriously damaged or compromised during the winter, especially if there are trees within close proximity of the house. Blocked drain pipes can cause a build-up of rainwater which could eventually leak into the roof cavity, causing water damage to ceilings and walls. All good DIY stores carry gutter leaf guards to protect against this happening. Gutters should also be monitored during periods of excessively cold weather as any icicles or frozen water could weigh down the pipes and gutters and even cause them to collapse.
The exterior of the house, as well as the garden, should also be carefully maintained. Every house should have a damp proof course, which is a black line in the mortar around two or three courses above ground level; it’s important for landlords or homeowners to check that this isn’t bridged with debris, soil or anything that could compromise its effectiveness. Any small trees or bushes that are situated close to window should be trimmed back in case of strong winds, and larger trees should be dealt with by a professional, who will monitor problems with the roots of the tree and who will lop off dead branches that could cause issues.
Wet or particularly rough weather can play havoc with security instalments, so there should definitely be regular checks as to whether the sensor and monitors are in good working order. Locks on garages and garden sheds should also be checked so ensure they are still secure, especially if the outbuildings are storing valuable possessions such as bikes, gardening equipment or garden furniture.
Water, Pipes and Tanks
Moving inside the house, water and electric levels are of paramount importance, and are most at risk during the winter months. Many people have never heard of a stop-cock, and wouldn’t know where to start in looking for one; they are usually situated under the stairs or under the kitchen sink, and they are used to restrict or isolate the flow of a liquid through a pipe. Leaks are often huge causes of insurance claims or damage within the home as a result of people not utilising shut-off valves properly. It is also recommended to check the insulation of any pipes and tanks within the house; incredibly cold weather could cause them to freeze and malfunction.
All plug sockets and electrical power outlets should be examined for cracks and damage, then replaced accordingly. At the very least, homeowners or landlords should be familiar with the fuse box in their home, and should know how to switch off the power supply at the mains if they are required to. A supply of extra fuses can also be of great use, especially for those who live in areas where power cuts or surges are possible outcomes of bad weather.
Although not necessarily specific to the winter months, features such as smoke alarms and indoor burglar alarms should be regularly tested and serviced if necessary. They are often inexpensive and they can save lives in the event of a fire or an intruder. Locks on all windows and doors, with removable keys, are recommended, with double-glazing practically a prerequisite in today’s housing market.
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