How to prepare your home for winter

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Admiral's tips to help prepare your home for winter. Find out more about everything from loft insulations to clearing your guttering

winter home

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 home for winter

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.

Have a look around your home and make good any areas such as fences, roof tiles and outbuildings. It's important to make sure your gutters are free from leaves and other blockages, as this can result in leaks and gutters breaking if they're holding water which then freezes.

Repair any leaking taps and think about isolating any outside taps in your garden or outbuildings or insulating them if this is not possible. Your Admiral policy won't cover frost damage.

Low hanging tree branches could cause chaos in high winds. If you have trees in your garden make sure you trim them – 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.

Listen to local news channels for useful information and updates. Also consider signing up for weather alerts from organisations such as the MET Office. 

How to insulate your home

  • Insulation: help keep your house warm by having good loft and consider wall cavity insulation if this is suitable for your property. 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. Make sure gas fires and solid fuel burners have been maintained and serviced properly. 
  • 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.
  • Outbuildings: insulate any external taps and pipework, especially in outbuildings such as garage. Your Admiral Home Insurance policy excludes frost damage to plumbing that's outside or in a garage or outbuilding.

Prevent frozen pipes

thermostat

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 12 degrees Celsius 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 won't work, 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?

  1. Turn off the water at the main stop valve and switch off the central heating.
  2. Thaw the pipe from the tap side of the frozen section by gently warming and work back towards the header tank.
  3. Open all taps to drain the system.
  4. If water is seeping through your ceilings, use buckets to collect. 
  5. Do not touch any electrics or wiring if they've been affected - turn off at the mains and call an electrician.
  6. If you're able to do so safely, move anything that's near the leak.
  7. Leave windows and internal doors open if it's safe to do so, as this will help your property dry out and prevent mould.  
  8. Contact Admiral on 0333 220 2035 for help and advice; our lines are open 24 hours for new claims.

Clean your garden after snowfall

frozen gutter

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 if it's safe to do so and get rid of any snow or ice that could weigh down your guttering and block or crack the pipes.

When it's safe, clear snow and ice from steps and steep pathways and scatter a de-icer salt or grit to prevent freezing - do not use water.

How to claim

  • Check your policy excess to decide if it's worth making a claim. 
  • Call our team of claims experts on 0333 220 2035 for advice and to make a claim if you need to. There's no need to fill out a claim form as our claims handlers will record all the details for you. You can also register your claim online.
  • To help the processing of your claim, make a list and take photos of anything damaged by the storm.
  • Keep receipts for any emergency repairs you make such as new panes of glass or roof repairs. We'll want to reach agreement on making repairs before you go ahead, but also understand you don’t want a bad situation to get worse. 
  • If water is coming into your property, prevent further damage to your belongings by moving them if it’s safe to do so.
  • Arrange temporary repairs to prevent further damage but don’t put yourself at risk. An example of this could be arranging for local contractors to make a temporary fix for a damaged roof to stop rain getting in. Keep the invoices for any temporary works carried out as we'll need to see them.
  • Home Emergency cover is standard on the Admiral Platinum tier and includes the cost of making a temporary repair using a tarpaulin or similar material. Check your policy documents to see if you have Home Emergency cover or contact us on 0345 609 4375.

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