The winter months: how to protect your home

2 minutes

The winter months often bring with them adverse weather conditions, low temperatures and periods of extreme wind and rain.

With this differing weather comes more risk to your home. From frozen pipes to falling debris, the chance of damage to your property is higher, but there are measures you can take to lower the risk of serious loss.

We have put together the following top tips for protecting your home from winter damage:

Freezing temperatures

Freezing temperatures can cause significant and costly damage to a property’s pipes.  To pre-empt this, here’s some advice:

  • Check the insulation of your interior water pipes and water tank. Outside pipes and any pipes or water tanks in your loft will also benefit from insulation.
  • Repair dripping taps – if you don’t, water could freeze in the waste pipe, causing a leak. If you find any sign of a leak anywhere on your property, act quickly to save a bigger issue building over time.
  • Maintain the water temperature by keeping the heating on low. This should be between 10-12 degrees as a minimum. If you have a property which is unoccupied during the winter, your insurance policy may require a minimum temperature. Each insurers’ temperature range may vary so it’s important to check your policy wording.

If you find a pipe is frozen and needs defrosting, start at the furthest point from the tank, using hot towels or a hair dryer to gently warm it up. If you have a burst pipe, a water leak detector can reduce the effects of water damage. These work in two ways, with the more advanced devices automatically shutting off the incoming water mains supply. Other devices text an alert to your mobile phone. Simpler shut-off valves are also available.

Wet weather conditions and storms

Even if you feel you are in an area with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past doesn’t mean you won’t in the future.

  • Regularly look over your property – visual checks of the outside of your home will make you aware of any cracks which could be worth fixing if damp is getting in.
  • Regularly inspect any loft space for any gaps in the roof.
  • Keep your gutters and drains clear. A blockage in these can prevent water from draining correctly and cause a backlog around your home.
  • Keep an eye on any nearby trees. Falling debris can cause many issues, so steps to minimise the chance of this are advised. Where you can, clear dead branches to avoid them falling and causing damage. 
  • In the event of heavy snow, use a roof rake to clear snow from the roof and prevent ice dams from forming.

If the Met Office issues a warning for heavy rains and flooding in your location, make sure you are prepared. 

Check your home insurance

Even if you’ve taken steps to protect your home this winter, accidents can still happen. That’s why you should ensure that you have adequate home insurance cover that includes bad weather coverage. Most buildings insurance policies will include this, but it’s worth checking to prevent any unnecessary expenses or nasty surprises. 

How a broker can help

A specialist home insurance broker, like Howden, can talk to you about your property and make security and safety recommendations. Should you have a property which is unoccupied during the winter months, we can introduce you to property management companies. It’s just one of the many benefits of using a broker.