The weather in Britain can be unpredictable and this year has seen extremes of cold and hot weather. But how can this weather potentially affect your home?
So far we have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to the British weather. With the Beast from the East earlier in 2018 and the recent summer heatwave, we have experienced everything from freezing temperatures and heavy snow, to day after day of hot sun and almost no rain.
Although the kids love some snow, and many of us love to see hot temperatures we only usually experience on holiday, what does it mean for your home if the weather is much colder, hotter or wetter than usual? Or a combination of them all in quick succession?
We’ve taken a look at the effects of extreme weather conditions, so you can be prepared.
Subsidence can be an issue after periods of very hot, dry weather, particularly for those living in areas with clay soil. This is because the ground expands with moisture and then contracts when it dries out, meaning buildings can start to sink.
The extended period of hot and dry weather we have experienced this summer could mean more people find their homes subsiding. If you notice cracks appearing in the walls, they could be a sign of subsidence.
For more information on this, take a look at our article: “What is subsidence?”
A significant amount of snowfall can actually be surprisingly heavy. If it builds up on the roof of your house or in the gutters, it can then end up cracking the guttering pipes or creeping up under the roof.
This isn’t too much of a problem while it’s still frozen, but it’s a good idea to clear it if you can and if it is safe to do so. As soon as the snow and ice starts to melt, the water can leak through weak spots in slates, tiles and roof lining, into your ceilings and even walls.
If it’s not a lot of water, you may not notice it at first, but it can lead to other problems such as damp patches and mould which are much harder to get rid of.
Us Brits are used to a lot of rain, but spells of cold and wet weather can leave our homes susceptible to problems with damp.
There are three kinds of damp that might affect your home and cause major problems:
1. Rising damp: Ground water coming up through a wall or floor causes rising damp. A damp-proof course or damp-proof membrane will usually stop it from causing damage, but if your house is older and doesn’t have one of these in place, you might notice peeling wallpaper or paint, damage to the plaster or skirting boards, and odd wet patches on the walls.
2. Penetrating damp: Penetrating damp is caused when water leaks through the exterior walls and then spreads inside and across interior walling. The usual cause of this is structural issues, such as broken guttering or roofing, cracks in rendering or brickwork, or leaky pipes.
3. Condensation: This is the most common of the three, and generally occurs in winter. A lot of steam is generated by showering, drying clothes indoors and cooking, for example, and this condenses on walls, windows and other surfaces, particularly when they’re cold. Making sure windows are opened regularly to ventilate the house and using extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom should help this.
Take a look at our guide to find out more about preventing and removing damp in the home.
Flooding is more likely to be an issue during a warm, wet winter rather than a cold and snowy one. Bad storms, prolonged periods of heavy rain and sudden cloudbursts all bring a risk of flooding.
If you live in a flood-prone area, there are a number of things you can do to protect your home from flood damage. And regardless of where you live, it’s a good idea to make sure your guttering and drains are clear and not blocked by fallen leaves or other debris.
We have two other guides that can help you find out more:
When temperatures drop, the more exposed pipes in your home and garden are at risk of freezing. If you have an outdoor tap, you may have already thought to ensure it is properly insulated, but what about those that might be in your attic or garage?
If the water freezes in any of the pipes in your home, it can cause the pipe to burst. You may not be aware that this has happened until temperatures start to rise and the ice in the pipe then melts.
For more information on the effects of weather on your home, check out our article: “Weather damage and home insurance”.