As the big freeze approaches, is your home ready?

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

It’s officially winter and temperatures have already dropped to -9.7C in some parts of the UK as we enter a forecasted cold snap.

As it gets colder outside it’s vital you look after your property to protect it from the elements and prevent serious damage. A few easy steps now could prevent a costly problem down the line and SunLife is urging homeowners to get their properties winter ready.

Simon Stanney, general insurance director, has put together his top five tips for ensuring your home is protected:

Don’t go too low

Don’t let your house get too cold. If you have a thermostat set your heating to come on if the house temperature falls below a certain level. If not, set a timer so the heating comes on at regular intervals, then if you’re away and there is a cold snap, the temperature won’t dip too low.

Stanney says: “Letting your home get really cold and then suddenly putting the heating on full blast is not good for your home. If the pipes were frozen it can cause them to thaw too quickly and burst. It can also cause damp on ceilings and walls through condensation.

Wrap up warm

One of the most common winter problems is frozen and burst pipes; you can reduce this risk by ensuring all your water pipes – and your water tank if you still have one – are well insulated.

Don’t be a drip

Fix any dripping taps because a small trickle of water, particularly from an outdoor tap, can freeze and completely block the pipe.

Don’t cock it up

It is important that everyone in the house knows where the stopcock is. If your pipes freeze, turn the water off at the stopcock (usually under the kitchen sink) to prevent burst pipes and flooding.

Stanney says: “If your pipes have frozen, turn the water off at the stopcock, switch off the heating and drain the system.”

Call the experts

Make sure you know who to call in a home emergency – your insurer should have an emergency helpline number where they can offer help, advice and arrange for any repairs that need to be carried out.

“Every winter without fail, insurers receive thousands of claims for damage done by frozen and burst pipes, blocked drains and fallen trees and fences,” says Stanney.

“Insurance gives us piece of mind that our homes are covered should the worst happen, but the inconvenience can be very stressful. We all know that prevention is better than cure and while there is nothing we can do about the freezing cold weather but if you follow our top tips you can protect your home now before the winter weather really takes hold.”