Protecting your property from the elements

The UK has seen some extreme weather in recent weeks, with flooding in various parts of the country. Severe weather episodes are becoming more and more frequent, and represent a real threat to lives, livelihoods and homes.

And it’s not just flooding that causes problems. Each year, homeowners across the country are caught out by sudden cold snaps. Freezing temperatures and snow can wreak havoc on your home, causing problems such as burst pipes and roof damage.

Of course, we can’t control the weather, but we can reduce the damage it can have on our homes. So, as the UK hunkers down for another long winter, what should you be doing to protect your property from the elements?

There are a few practical checks and measures that you can carry out now, to make sure your property withstands the worst of the winter weather.

  1. Stay on top of general property maintenance. Minor DIY jobs like cleaning out your guttering might seem unimportant, but don’t put them off for another day. You want to prevent water running down your external walls and seeping through the brickwork.
  2. Ensure your windows are well-sealed in order to prevent water damage.
  3. Make sure your boiler has been serviced recently.
  4. If you have any broken or missing roof tiles, be sure to replace them. Any gaps will let water in, and also allow the wind to get behind and take off the remaining tiles.
  5. Fix damaged brickwork and rendering. Over time, extremes of temperature can cause rendering and brickwork to crack. Don’t ignore it, as these cracks can allow moisture to penetrate your walls, causing damp problems.
  6. Keep out the cold with cavity wall insulation. It’s important to strike the right balance between insulation and ventilation, and insulation is not suitable for all properties, so do check with an expert before going ahead. Prior to fitting cavity wall insulation, you should make sure any necessary repairs have been made to the exterior of the property. If water is allowed to seep into insulation, it can become trapped, causing condensation and water damage.
  7. Make sure your loft is well-insulated and lag your pipes to protect them from the cold. However, don’t insulate right to the edge of the eaves. Air needs to circulate to avoid create condensation problems which could lead to rot and decay.
  8. If you think your property is at risk of flooding, store sand bags which can act as an effective barrier to help prevent floodwater entering your home.
  9. Frozen and burst pipes are common during cold weather and can cause a great deal of damage. However, they can be easily avoided. If you’re going away for a few days over the winter, keep your central heating on a timer and at a low temperature. Make sure you know where your stopcock is, check your radiator valves and repair any dripping taps. If you do have a frozen pipe, turn the water off using the stopcock and slowly thaw out the pipe using a warm water bottle. If the pipe bursts, turn off your central heating and open the taps to drain the water.
  10. Store a large bag of grit or salt somewhere covered and dry, and use it in cold weather to keep paths, steps and driveways free from slippery ice and snow.

By following the tips above, your home should be well-prepared for the worst the winter weather has to throw at us. Stay safe and warm out there!

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