When freezing weather arrives you can easily pull on an extra layer or blanket to keep out the chill. But to protect your home, the simple precautions below can help to reduce the risk of serious damage to your property.
Cold weather can often be the cause of maintenance problems around the home, which are not only inconvenient but can be very costly to repair. Insulating your exposed water pipes is an easy and inexpensive first step.
Prevent frozen pipes in winter
- Insulate your pipes and the loft water storage tank. Put the insulation foam on top of pipes rather than underneath them
- Turn off any indoor valves on pipes leading to outside taps, then open the outside tap and leave it open to let any water drain out
- Regularly check all the taps in your home during the winter months. If little or no water flows, there may be frozen water in the pipes
- If you are away from home in the winter, set the central heating to come on for a short period each day to prevent pipes from freezing
- Find out where the mains water stopcock is, and ensure it turns off easily. If your pipes do freeze, turn the water off and thaw them out slowly with hot water bottles. Never use a heat gun or blow torch
- Ask someone to check your home if you're away for a while. This should help ensure leaking or burst pipes are spotted early and damage is kept to a minimum (tell them where the stopcock is)
Get ready with a bit of DIY
- Save a supply of drinking water for emergencies
- Repair any dripping taps – if they freeze, they'll block your pipes
- Clear leaves and debris from gutters to reduce the risk of dams that can turn to ice
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas like the garage
- Tidy away or cover garden furniture
- Check the outside lights are all working, or add a light to make access safer
- Keep yourself warm – enjoy a hot meal and drinks, and keep active
Improve your energy efficiency
A good start is to fill any draughty gaps and also keep the heat inside your home. This will help save on your fuel bills too.
- Block draughts from windows, external and internal doors, skirting, loft hatches, and pipes or cables passing through walls
- Draw the curtains at dusk and close internal doors to unheated rooms
- Insulate your loft – a quarter of your heat can be lost through the roof
- Get heating appliances serviced, or your chimneys swept to ensure that the fire burns efficiently
- Radiator reflectors will direct heat into the room and not out through an external wall (ensure the radiators are not covered by curtains or furniture)
- Fit a thermal jacket around the hot water cylinder – at least 75mm thick – and check the thermostat isn't set higher than 60 degrees
- If your radiators have cool spots when the central heating is on, bleed them to improve their efficiency
- Set your heating to 18–21°C to keep your bills low, and to come on earlier and go off later rather than turning the thermostat up.