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Is Your Home Ready for Winter?

Don’t get caught out in the Winter months. Make sure your home is ready for winter with this useful guide.

preparing your home for winter

As the number of daylight hours reduce and there’s a chill in the air, its time to start preparing for the onset of winter. Warm jumpers, waterproof coats, gloves and scarves will all start to become part of daily life. But what about our homes?

Like us, our homes need protecting from the elements too, not only to keep us warm and dry, but to help prevent unnecessary stress and expense from potentially avoidable repair issues.

Take a look at these tips to get your home winter ready, AND REMEMBER your home insurance won’t cover damage that’s caused by poor maintenance or wear and tear, so make sure your property is in good shape before winter starts.

  • Start outside – take care of repairs
  • Remove clutter from the gutter
  • Insulate your home
  • Sweep your chimney
  • Get your boiler checked
  • Check for radiator efficiency
  • Be snow ready
  • Be prepared for an emergency
  • Landlords – speak to your tenants
  • Check your home insurance

Start Outside – Take Care Of Repairs

Winter storms can be harsh and hit us unexpectedly, causing damage to our properties and gardens. It’s worth spending a little time outside now to prevent damage and loss from storms and the cold weather to come.

Put away your garden furniture and secure any loose items that could be a hazard and fly around or smash things on a windy day. Inspect your roof tiles, replacing any that are cracked or loose, and maintain the mortar around your ridge tiles. Also, check and trim trees closer to the building than their height, if necessary. Make good any defects to fences, gates, sheds and outbuildings.

Remove Clutter From The Gutter

Although it’s not the most exciting of tasks, clearing your gutters and drains from mud, leaves and other debris can help to prevent leaks and over spilling of water that cannot otherwise drain away effectively. It will also help to minimise the risk of gutters breaking, and water damage occurring to the roof and walls of your property, which could lead to potentially hefty repair bills and home insurance claims.

Insulate Your Home For Winter

The key to keeping warm at home is to keep the heat in and the draughts out. Insulating your home will help to keep the heat in. There are several ways to do this, and not all of them need to break the bank.

A quarter of the heat in your house is lost through the roof so it’s a good idea to ensure you have loft insulation. This and wall cavity insulation can be done with the help of government grants, so if you don’t already have it, contact your local council for more information.

Lag your pipes using foam tubing. Focus your attention on the pipes in your loft and those that lead to outdoor water sources as they are most at risk of freezing in the cold weather. And, don’t forget your water tank – using an insulation jacket will help to keep it protected against the cold.


Outside taps are best left to drip in cold weather as running water through the pipe, even at a trickle helps to prevent pipes from freezing.

Familiarise yourself and family of where your stopcock is located, and make sure it works.  If an emergency occurs with a burst pipe you will need to switch the water supply off quickly to minimise water damage, and the costs of lost metered water.

Other ways to avoid frozen pipes and keep the heat circulating:

  • Keep the garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply pipes in or above the garage
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Leave your loft hatch open to allow warmer air into the loft space
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and the night
  • Leave your heating on a constant at a minimum of 15 degrees C if you are planning to leave your property unattended during October to end March

Sweep Your Chimney

There’s nothing quite like the crackling sound and heat from a lovely open fire but unfortunately unless you have had the chimney swept or inspected since last season there is an increased risk of a chimney fire occurring. In fact, most chimney fires are preventable, and the most common causes of chimney fires are:

  • Infrequent sweeping and cleaning
  • Overnight burning or smouldering wood for long periods in wood stoves
  • Burning unseasoned wet wood
  • Improper appliance sizing

The months of October and November see more of these devastating claims than at any other time of the year, so before you get too cosy, get yours checked or cleaned so it’s safe to use this coming winter.

How often should you clean your chimney?

  • Oil – Once a year
  • Gas – Once a year
  • Bituminous coal – Twice a year
  • Wood – Up to four times a year
  • Smokeless coals – At least once a year

Get Your Boiler Checked

Service your boiler now to ensure it’s in good working order for the months ahead. Avoid being caught off guard when you need your central heating the most. When arranging your service, make sure you always use a Gas Safe registered engineer.

It’s also a good idea to consider taking out a suitable home emergency cover for your boiler and heating if you don’t already have it. By doing this, you ensure access to a qualified engineer for repairs in case of a breakdown, and more importantly, you avoid being stuck without hot water or heating during the coldest months of the year.

Check for Radiator Efficiency

Make sure your radiators are doing their jobs properly! Radiators that are hot at the bottom and colder at the top have air trapped inside them. This means the heat cannot circulate properly and your radiator isn’t working efficiently. Bleed your radiators to release the trapped air. You will need your radiator key and a towel, but this is a simple job and will help to keep your radiators functioning properly and your house warmer.

Be snow ready

Snow can catch us all out, so its better to be prepared!  Make sure you have access to the tools you need to clear your pathways and any steps of snow and ice. Have a de-icer grit or salt in the house ready to use on your pathways to prevent them from freezing and help to avoid any nasty falls or accidents.

Landlords – Speak To Your Tenants

Make sure your tenants know about what could go wrong with their homes during the winter months. Let them know what to do if they spot an issue and who to call. Give them some basic tips on helping to prevent pipes from freezing, ventilating the property adequately and who to call in the event of a boiler breakdown. Remember, for a lot of tenants they have never owned their own home before and may not be as aware of the issues that can arise.

Be Prepared For An Emergency

When things do go wrong, or something unexpected occurs its always better to be prepared as best as you can be. Put together some basics to help you in the event of an emergency at home. Some helpful items include:

    • Candles, matches, torch and batteries – for power cuts
    • A small electric heater – in case your central heating breaks down
    • Grit for driveways and paths – for snow and ice

If you know snow is on its way, keep extra food in the house in case it’s difficult to get out.

Check Your Home Insurance

Run an eye over your home insurance. Make sure you have the right level of cover you need for your property and circumstances, taking into account the damage that can be caused by the winter weather. Does your home insurance cover you adequately for storm damage for example? Check if you have home emergency and boiler cover included. Most policies will not automatically include this.

Top tip – always make sure you have easy access to your home insurance policy documents. Report any claims quickly as you will get advice to help you minimise any further damage from arising.

Intelligent Insurance provide insurance for non-standard or unusual properties and circumstances. The policy has been Rated 5 Stars by Defaqto giving high levels of cover, including Home Emergency* and Legal Expenses cover as standard.

If you are looking for non-standard home insurance, or insurance for unusual properties or circumstances such as listed building, second home or properties made from non standard materials, get a quote from us online today, or speak to one of our knowledgeable advisors through live chat

*Home Emergency cover is only available in respect of your principal home and it is not available to landlords for their tenanted properties

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