The AA is advising homeowners to prepare their houses for the worsening winter weather. Further unsettled conditions and colder temperatures are predicted for the coming week bringing greater risks to homes.
“We’ve been looking after home insurance for over 30 years and we’ve come across many easily preventable claims” says Conor Faughnan Director of Consumer Affairs at The AA. “It’s really important to keep on top of your home maintenance to prevent accidents occurring, that’s why we’ve devised ‘The AA Home NCT’ to help homeowners avoid some of these problems.”
To make sure houses are fully protected from all wintry conditions, The AA is urging homeowners to act now before the weather deteriorates further. ‘The AA Home NCT’ involves safeguarding your house from the outside in.
Leaves and other debris blown around by autumn winds can leave your gutters blocked. It’s important to clear out any rubbish to avoid rainwater overflowing on to your roof or down your walls. Autumnal winds can also cause your roof tiles to be dislodged and prone to further damage in the next storm. Not many of us want to go up on a roof without professional help but you can stand in the garden or across the road and check visually whether anything looks out of place. If you notice a problem with your neighbour’s roof it is a good idea to tell them – they may not have realised it themselves.
Extremely strong winds can turn outside possessions into projectiles which can be very dangerous. Make sure your satellite dish is properly secured and if your house has an aerial you should check that too. Store any garden furniture, toys, etc in a securely locked shed or garage. Do a garden check too and remove any loose or damaged branches from trees. Heavy rain also brings flooding so to prevent floodwater from causing damage, clear your drains of any leaves or other items which may cause a blockage.
“Autumn is when we tend to see the worst stormy weather, a lot of wind and rain which will give your house quite a battering” warns Faughnan. “However, the closer we get to December the higher the chance of below-freezing temperatures and with it, further problems for homeowners, such as frozen pipes.”
Freezing weather can play havoc with the pipes in your home so make sure they’re properly insulated to avoid them freezing. Any exposed outdoor pipes should be fitted with insulating sleeves too. The big freeze events 2010 resulted in more than 19,000 insurance claims which cost the Irish Insurance industry almost a quarter of a billion euro. If you’re going on holiday while the weather is expected to be freezing, it would be a good idea to turn off the water at the mains and ensure the pipes are drained by letting the water run on all taps and by flushing all toilets. You could also ask a friend or relative to visit your home daily and make sure that none of the pipes have burst. Be sure to let them know where the stop tap is located, just in case.
Damage caused by fire can be extensive but there are ways you can prevent a small fire from turning into a blazing inferno. Remember, never leave candles unattended and if you have a real fire, put a spark guard in front of it before leaving the room. If a fire does break out, it’s important to make sure that you have a clear path to the door so that you escape safely and alert attention. Clear any items you are likely to trip over on your way out the door and if the exit requires a key to open it from the inside, make sure it can be easily found. To protect your home and your family, it’s vital to have a smoke alarm, but make sure it is checked once a week.
If the worst does happen it’s good to know you’re covered, AA Home Insurance now comes with free Home Rescue so not only can you claim for damages but The AA will also send someone out to fix the problem. You can also rest assured that this tradesperson will have been approved and monitored by The AA to meet an excellent standard of service.
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