With winter on the horizon AA Home Insurance is urging householders to take the necessary steps to winter-proof your home.
So to help we’ve put together a checklist of some top tips to help you prepare.
Outside your home
Complete a visual check of your roof to ensure all tiles are safely secured. With chimney pots, make sure they are straight, free from cracks, the TV Ariel is firmly in place and not tilted at an angle.
Particularly if you have trees located within a close proximity to your home, check if leaf fall has clogged your gutters. Remember blocked drain pipes and silted gutters can cause water to enter the roof space with consequent damage to ceiling and walls. As a preventative measure it is worth paying your local DIY store a visit for gutter leaf guards.
Having a home security alarm system installed can pose as a deterrent to preying burglars. Not only does it increase the safety of you and your home, but it can also reduce your home insurance premium. However, if you do opt for the alarm discount you must remember to use your alarm system consistently. It is equally important that your security lighting, alarm and sensors are functioning correctly.
Make sure the locks on your garden shed and garage are secure and use them routinely– particularly if you are storing valuable items such as golf clubs, bikes and garden equipment.
Inside your home
Anyone who has experienced a burst pipe might agree that “acting fast” is key which means leaving the process of scratching your head and commencing a search for your stopcock when a burst pipe strikes is far from ideal. So it is essential that all house occupants know where to find the stopcock in advance of the event, as it can determine the extent of damage suffered to your home. Most stopcocks can be found in your bathroom, under your kitchen sink or under the stairs. If your hot water and bathroom taps are supplied from a roof tank, look in your airing cupboard or next to the tank in the roof for the shut off valves. Check the insulation of the pipes and tank in your roof – a really cold snap could cause the tank to freeze. It is also essential to get your central heating boiler serviced
Check plugs and sockets for cracks and damage and have them replaced if necessary. Familiarise yourself with your fuse box – make sure you have spare fuses to hand (if fitted) and you know how to switch off the mains supply if necessary.
Fairy lights, candles and open winter fires can somewhat increase your risk of a fire spreading throughout your home – so having an audible smoke alarm installed in your home is a must. As well as replenishing batteries and changing smoke alarms at least every 10 years, developing a routine of completing a full smoke alarm safety check on a weekly basis to ensure they are operating efficiently is a vital safety measures. Excluding garages and bathrooms, a smoke alarm should be fitted in every room of the house.
Fit window locks if you don’t have them – and be sure to regularly use them. Some home insurance policies insist on a five-lever mortice lock to BS 3621 or a similar lock feature to be fitted on all external doors, so it is worth consulting your home insurance provider for further information on this.
Make sure your home insurance cover is fit for purpose and any valuables or additional items are included in your policy (for example, if you have had a conservatory built, make sure you’ve increased your buildings and contents cover accordingly). The stage of submitting a claim is the wrong time to learn you’ve forgotten to renew your policy!
A final word on preparing your home for winter…
It is worth investing in a first aid kit for your home. Knowing exactly where you can lay hands on a torch, a roll of insulation tape, spare fuses, a radiator bleeding key, spare batteries, WD-40, screwdriver, craft knife and plasters in a hurry could be vital. Including some important telephone numbers in your kit, such as your insurance company helpline, fire brigade services and local police station also makes a good precautionary measure.