Household emergencies generally occur during the depths of winter, but we recommend that homeowners undertake winter property check to prevent unforeseen property headaches in the months to come, with January often being one of the coldest months of the year. Here are some pointers:
- Make sure your central heating system is working as it should. Don’t wait until the really cold weather arrives to discover that the central heating is not working properly and if a service is overdue consider booking an engineer asap.
- A sudden cold snap can burst water pipes, causing flooding. Make sure you know the location of the stop-cock. Ensure your pipes and tank are properly lagged but do not insulate underneath your tank. If you are going away, leave the heating on low and leave your loft hatch open. If you have only recently moved into your new home then make sure you know where the stop cock(s) are.
- Storms can bring down branches causing damage to roofs, so it’s worth doing some pruning rather than having to call out the tree-surgeon, roofer and insurance assessor in an emergency.
- Check your gutters are clear, as the weight of waterlogged and frozen leaves can cause them to leak or collapse. Whilst you are at it have a good look at the pointing.
- Assess your roof for loose tiles that can easily become dislodged during high winds, causing damage to property, cars and possibly injury to people.
- Avoid getting smoked out as you light the fire by checking that birds have not made a nest in the chimney.
- Outside lighting not only enhances safety but also deters burglars, who are more active during the winter.
- Ensure your garden furniture, barbeque, toys, etc are securely stored as they can be stolen if left outside, and become damaged or prove hazardous in bad weather.
All the above can usually be done over a weekend, which is time well spent if the stress and expense of a winter emergency are to be avoided. Most of you will not be going back to work until 3rd January so perhaps set aside a few hours on the Bank Holiday.
When was the last time you checked your building insurance policy, both home and for your rental investment(s)? Sometimes it’s not so much about what is covered, but about what is not. Now might be a good time to go over your policies, just to make sure you are sufficiently covered.