Admiral's tips to help prepare your home for winter. Find out more about everything from loft insulations to clearing your guttering
With temperatures dropping across the country, it's a good idea to carry out a few quick jobs around your home and garden to prepare for the colder months.
Here are some easy, cost-effective steps you can take to help prevent any damage to your property this winter.
Prepare your garden for a storm
You should start your winter preparations outside; if you have loose items in your garden or on your balcony, bring them inside or secure them where they are. You don't want to risk them getting damaged or smashing any of your windows in a storm.
Homeowners have a responsibility to ensure their home is in the best possible condition which means checking all your roof tiles are in place before a storm hits.
Low hanging tree branches could cause chaos in high winds. If you have trees in your garden make sure you trim – or arrange to have them trimmed – before bad weather hits. If the trees are in a neighbour's garden, try to speak to them to avoid disputes over blame should the worst happen.
How to insulate your home
- Insulation - help keep your house warm by having good loft and wall cavity insulation. This doesn't have to be a big expense; there are a number of government grants that pay for the installation. Check with your local council for more info
- Draught excluders - prevent heat from escaping through windows and doors by sealing any gaps with adhesive tape and use draught excluders at doors. If you have an open fire, make sure you have proper ventilation. For more information on fire ventilation click here
- Water tank - it's important to insulate the top and sides of your water tank with sheets or a jacket filled with glass fibre matting; it'll save energy and money
- Lag pipes - to help prevent pipes from freezing 'lag' - or wrap - the pipes in your attic, and any pipes leading to outdoor water sources, with foam tubing.
Prevent frozen pipes
Being prepared for winter weather is the best way to prevent the disruption and inconvenience that frozen water pipes cause many households each year.
Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water urges people to spend a few moments to protect their pipes from bursting and causing damage that can run into thousands of pounds.
Here are Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water's eight tips to prevent pipes from freezing:
- Make sure you know the location of your stop tap so you can reach it quickly in an emergency (TIP: It's often under the kitchen sink)
- Make sure any exposed pipes are wrapped or lagged
- Keep an eye out for frozen pipes, bursts or leaks
- Fix dripping taps a gentle trickle of water can freeze and completely block the pipe
- Holiday thinking - if you're heading off for some winter sun for more than five days between November and March, you'll need to either keep your home constantly heated to 12c or turn off the water supply at the mains and drain the system. Admiral note: if you do neither of these you may not be covered in the event of a claim
- Check dripping taps and overflows - take a quick look now to prevent your pipes from freezing or flooding; constant dripping water could freeze and cause you big problems
- Bleed radiators - bleeding your radiators releases any trapped air which allows hot water to fill every part of the radiator, subsequently warming your home more efficiently
- Store gardening equipment - you probably won't be using your gardening tools or lawnmower for a few months now. Make sure they are clean, dry and stored away securely to prevent rust or theft
What to do if your boiler pipes have frozen
If your boiler has packed in, it might be because your condensate pipe has frozen. This is the pipe that takes the condensation from your boiler to the drain outside. There are a few things you can do to try and defrost the pipe before you call out a plumber or use your home emergency cover, if you have it.
Try these steps to defrost your condensate pipe:
- Hold a hot water bottle against the pipe or pour hot - not boiling - water over the frozen end of the pipe with a kettle or watering can
- Try switching on the boiler again and see if it fires up. If it does, it's fixed. If not, repeat the previous steps
- Still no joy? Call a plumber or get in touch with your home emergency cover provider, who can send someone out.
What should I do if a pipe bursts in my home?
- Turn off the water at the main stop valve and switch off the central heating
- Thaw the pipe from the tap side of the frozen section by gently warming and work back towards the header tank
- Open all taps to drain the system
- If water is seeping through your ceilings, use buckets to collect. If the ceilings are starting to swell make a hole in the plaster to let the water pass without the ceiling collapsing
- Do not touch any electrics or wiring if they've been affected - turn off at the mains and call an electrician
- Contact Admiral on 0333 220 2035 for help and advice; our lines are open 24 hours for new claims
Clean your garden after snowfall
It's important you clear any guttering after snow has hit. Any moss or leaves in your guttering will be prone to freezing so clear them out and get rid of any snow or ice that could weigh down your guttering and block or crack the pipes.
Clear paths and steps to prevent any falls; clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways and scatter a de-icer salt or grit to prevent freezing - do not use water.