How to avoid a home emergency this winter

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winter homeThere’s definitely a nip in the air as we approach the end of autumn and start gearing up for winter. Of course, the colder months do have their good points; Christmas festivities, cosy nights in and maybe even the odd snowball fight. However, the harsh winter conditions can sometimes start to take their toll. Not only can the frosty skies darken your mood, they can also spell trouble for your home.

Before the depths of winter are upon us, it’s a good idea to make some preparations and invest a little time and money in getting your home ready for the season. So, as the evenings get darker and the days get chillier, take heed of these top tips.

Boiler health check

One of the worst things that can happen when it’s cold outside is being left without heating or hot water. Boilers are notoriously temperamental, especially when they’re old and are fired up again after the summer. If your boiler is showing signs of old age – it could be worth investing in a new, up-to-date model.

Heating and water account for around 60% of your home energy bills, so it makes sense to get an energy-efficient boiler fitted. Typically, the newer, condensing boilers waste less energy than older models and could save you hundreds of pounds a year. If you do decide to replace your boiler, make sure your fitter is Gas Safe registered. You can use various sites to find a trusted tradesman if you don’t know any, such as ratedpeople.com

Prepare your pipes

The burst water pipe is a common winter problem and can cause extensive and costly damage to your home. It can be common in cold weather as it results from the water freezing and expanding inside the pipe. As the water expands it can put substantial pressure on the inner walls of the pipe, meaning weaker pipes may burst.

If you’re able, try checking pipes for any missing insulation. If you have an old property or suspect problems, it may be worth asking a professional to check the condition of your pipes and ensure they’re well insulated. Any holes or cracks in external walls near to pipes should also be sealed up to keep cold away from them. Before the onset of winter, it’s also advisable to bleed your radiators to help improve their efficiency.

In the case of a burst pipe, make a note of where your mains water stop valve is – so you can stop the flow of water quickly in an emergency. Try under the sink or your stairs.

Look outside

Sometimes people totally forget about the exterior of their property as they’re so focused on the inside. Make time to inspect the outside structure and external areas of your property before the weather gets bad.

Conduct visual checks to uncover any potential problems. Are all your roof tiles in tact? Are there any cracks or holes that could let in water or even rodents in search of a warm place to shelter?

When it’s raining, go outside to check your guttering. Does it appear to be over-flowing? Are there water marks on the wall that show evidence of an overflow? If so, it’s likely that the guttering is blocked with debris or it’s broken. It’s best to call in a professional who is competent working at height to sort out your gutters and help ensure rain water can drain away efficiently.

Home emergency cover

No matter how much you prepare, emergencies can still happen. Emergency cover can normally be purchased alongside your home cover policy (although it may already be provided as standard, so double check) and could help you deal with unexpected situations. For example, if you suffered a blocked drain, burst water pipe or loss of gas or electricity – it could help you rectify the problem quickly without leaving you out-of-pocket.

 

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.