If you have an untenanted property, it’s essential to take the right steps to protect it during winter. Especially from the main culprit behind a long list of problems; water. Freezing and general damp can cause massive damage. The cost of dealing with a burst pipe, especially if it’s not discovered straight away, can run into thousands. Empty unheated homes are particularly at risk. Even if your property has tenants, you might want to check whether they have any plans to go away during the cold weather and if they know what steps to take to protect their home until they return.
Be aware that your insurance won’t always cover fully for damage, if the insurer can argue that your negligence has contributed to the problem. Check your policy and make sure you understand your obligations, especially for any empty period.
Some steps to consider.
- To stop pipes freezing and bursting, if the property is empty, leave the heating on, but on a low setting. Modern heating systems often have a special very low, ‘anti-freeze’ setting which provides just enough heat to give protection. This costs, but could save you thousands of pounds worth of damage. Remember that even insulated pipes can still burst if left in freezing conditions for long enough. They just lose their heat more slowly.
- If a property will be empty long term, it might be worth not only turning off the water supply but also draining all water in pipes, tanks and the central heating. You might need a plumber for this, but its not a big or expensive job
- Make sure that gutters and drains are clear. Blockages can lead to build-ups of water which can then freeze creating flooding risks. The weight of ice can sometimes collapse guttering. If the areas that need checking are inaccessible, it might be worth paying for a professional to do it for you.
- Check for loose or missing roof tiles which can give water the perfect route into your property!
- Check for any sign of damp inside, including mould or mildew. However slight the problem appears, it could be the start of something nasty. If you find damp, make sure you get the cause checked out properly.
If you do suspect a problem with any issue around weather proofing your property, don’t leave it; act straight away.