10 tips to winter-proof your property
If long-term forecasts are anything to go by, we could be in for another bitter winter. So, enjoy the last of the autumnal sun and start considering how to prepare your property for the winter months. Here are a few tips to get you started…
1. Give your pipes the once over
Keep pipes cosy by wrapping them in lagging. Not only will lagging stop pipes from freezing, but it will help avoid blockages and burst pipes. If you have any known problem areas, be sure to cover these first (eg, where the pipes run outside or in cold areas such as the garage).
Whether located inside or outside, if you or your neighbours notice a frozen common pipe, please contact your property manager who can arrange for a suitable contractor to attend.
2. Know where the stopcock is
Do you (or your tenants) know where the stopcock is? If the water in your pipes freezes, pressure can build up behind the blockage and cause them to burst. While this is rare, it’s important your can locate your stopcock to switch off the water mains in an emergency. The normal hiding place is under the kitchen sink, and a typical stopcock should be turned clockwise to cut supply.
3. Insulate the loft
Loft insulation can make a real difference when it comes to preserving heat in your home. Even if you have insulation, it’s worth checking it’s up to standard.
4. Give gutters a clear-out
At this time of year, it’s important to make sure guttering is clear of debris, ensuring the pipes can efficiently carry water away from your home. This prevents damp from getting into your walls, which can cause costly damage. Our Property managers can assist you and your neighbours in arranging this work.
5. Seal any draughty areas
If you are feeling the chill from draughts in your home, sealing them is a quick, simple way to stay warm and save money. Check for draughts around the edges of window frames, gaps under doors, and around the letterbox. Draught excluders are available online, which will block draughts between doors. For windows and other small gaps, just seal the openings to keep the cold out this winter.
6. Give your radiators some TLC
Bleeding a radiator is a simple but effective way to keep your property toasty this winter. If your radiators feel cool at the top and hot at the bottom, it’s likely they need bleeding. Simply release any excess air with a radiator bleeding key and an old towel.
7. Keep your property warm
If the weather gets particularly cold, try to heat the house for at least an hour every day – even if you are at work or away over the festive period. Each boiler is different, but find out how to set the boiler timer with the manual that came with your unit or search for the model’s instructions online.
8. Check the boiler’s pressure
Generally, it should be between one and two bars. You’ll find the pressure gauge on the front of the boiler, or underneath it where the pipes are. It’ll be either a dial or a digital display. If it’s too high or too low, give a Gas Safe engineer a call to make sure the pressure is right.
9. Make sure the property is secure
With the dark evenings already upon us, it’s important to make sure your property’s security is up to scratch, especially if it’s empty while you are away over the festive period. Make sure you leave your home looking occupied. Setting the heating to come on regularly each day will help to prevent pipes from freezing, while scheduling a lamp or two to come on with a timer will help to deter any potential thieves.
10. Test all your alarms
Burglaries spike by more than a third during daylight savings time claims Co-op Insurance. If you’re lucky enough to have CCTV or a house alarm already, make sure both have been properly serviced and maintained so they work correctly. This is especially important if your property is unoccupied or located in a remote area.
Believe it or not, Christmas Day sees the sharpest increase in fire-related insurance claims – so make sure your property is kitted out with at least one fire alarm on each storey, plus a carbon monoxide alarm for extra measure.
Scottish Water has published this handy guide with advice on how to protect your pipes from the cold and what to do if they succumb to the harsh weather: Be Prepared for Winter
In the event of an emergency, these contact details, supplied by The Scottish Government, of organisations who can help if you lose electricity, gas or water may be of help: Loss of Electricity, Water or Gas Contacts
And if you are a landlord, we would recommend you share this advice with your tenants.