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Home Maintenance this winter

Preparing your home for winter.

Interior of the home

  • Get your boiler serviced regularly by a qualified engineer – if it's due its annual service soon, get it booked in before the weather gets really cold
  • If you regularly use an open fire or log-burning stove, get the chimney swept
  • If you know how to, bleed your radiators, as air pockets reduce their efficiency
  • Familiarise yourself with the location of your mains water stop valve (it's usually under the sink or stairs), in case you need to shut it off in the event of a burst pipe
  • Make sure your pipes are properly insulated to avoid them freezing.  Outside pipes should be fitted with insulating sleeves if exposed.  The big freeze of late 2009 and early 2010 resulted in more than 19,000 insurance claims at a cost of close to a quarter of a billion to the Irish Insurance industry.
  • To prevent pipes bursting in winter: If you are leaving your home for a length of time this winter – turn off water at the mains and ensure the pipes are drained. You can drain the pipes by letting the water run on all taps and by flushing all toilets. If you don’t want to drain your water system and you have gas or oil central heating, you can set the system to operate continuously for 24 hours a day at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 13 degrees Centigrade. Please ensure all radiators are on and there is adequate fuel supply
  • You should also ensure that the attic door (where fitted) is left open. This will help spread the heat throughout the entire house.
  • Check windows and doors for draughts – fit draught excluders or repair seals as necessary
  • When required, wipe condensation off windows to help prevent build-up of mould and damp – consider buying a de-humidifier if the problem is persistently bad
  • If your home is going to be empty for a while (for more than a few days) or if you have a second property, keep the thermostat set to low, to stop temperature dropping too low
  • Make sure you have adequate home insurance cover on your home
  • Keep a torch and spare batteries in a convenient place and have emergency contact numbers to hand
  • Make sure all electrical Christmas decorations, sight as fairy lights have tight connections.  Make sure you unplug them all when there’s no one at home.
  • Never leave candles lit in an empty room
  • Check the attic has adequate ventilation
  • Double check that your smoke alarm works

Exterior of the home

  • Check roof tiles and slates are secure so you don’t get water damage in the loft/roof space
  • Check your aerial is properly secured.
  • Remove dead/damaged branches from any trees which could damage your property in stormy weather.
  • Store your garden furniture in a properly sealed shed/garage/conservatory.
  • Make sure your front gate is properly locked
  • Check guttering from ground level by looking for signs of water overflowing during heavy rain. Get someone in to rectify if you're not confident on a ladder
  • Clean dead leaves and other debris from your gutters from time to time or risk rainwater overflowing on to your roof.
  • Check exterior walls for any damage that could let water in and inspect windows for cracked panes – arrange repair work as necessary
  • Make sure that brick air vents are clear from obstruction
  • Clear as necessary any drain gratings and pathways
  • Consider purchasing sand/salt and shovel to clear driveways and paths
  • Turn off and drain external water taps and store garden hoses in a frost-free place
  • Lubricate external locks and padlocks with a water dispersant
  • If in any doubt, seek professional advice and assistance

AA Ireland Limited trading as AA Insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.