Each winter, severe weather results in huge home insurance claims as frozen pipes, cracked tiles and falling gutters pile on the misery for thousands of homeowners.
Heavy snow and freezing temperatures lead to millions of pounds in claims for damage to homes, cars and businesses.
However, estate agents and valuers Harrison Murray have some top tips for homeowners who have a property for sale – particularly an empty one – to avoid unnecessary misery and expense, and advise that the homes are properly insured.
A report into home insurance found that 59 per cent of homeowners believed their insurance would pay out for all weather-related claims, regardless of the cause.
In reality however, all claims caused by lack of general maintenance will be rejected.
Here’s how to winter safe your home so that potential buyers see it at its best whatever the weather:
Pipes - Icy weather can freeze pipes causing them to burst and flood your home when they thaw. Make sure you know where the stopcock is so that you can turn the water off if necessary. Investigate any new damp patches immediately.
Heating - If you go away or your property is empty, leave the heating on low as this will help prevent your pipes from freezing in a severe cold snap. Also a warm home makes it more appealing to a potential buyer.
Service your boiler – It may still be relatively mild, but when wintry weather kicks in, having heating and hot water is essential. Try and get your boiler serviced professionally each year.
Bleed your radiators - Bleeding your radiators gets rid of any air inside which may lead to increased bills if the radiators aren’t working efficiently.
Roof - Homeowners with a tile or slate roof need to check that there are no loose tiles or slates. When the wind is strong, a loose tile can easily be displaced and that will let in the damp. You should repair or replace any broken or missing tiles immediately. The Axa report revealed 31 per cent of homeowners hadn’t checked the state of their roofs in five years and 11 per cent have never checked their roofs.
Gutters – Autumn leaves may block gutters, the weight of which could crack or even displace the gutter. According to the Axa survey, 59 per cent of homeowners hadn’t checked their gutters in the past three years and 24 per cent had never cleared their gutters.
Damp - If you notice damp, you need to dry out the affected area or use a de-humidifier to help stop condensation. If there is a lot of condensation in your house, it can harm paintwork and cause black mould spots.
Loft insulation - Check that your loft insulation is thick enough and in good condition. Loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double glazing can all help protect your home and save you money on heating bills.
Chimney – If you have one, make sure your chimney is swept by a certified chimney sweep. This is important, as a blockage, such as a bird’s nest, could be a fire hazard.
Drains – Blocked drains should be cleared as soon as possible to ensure that water can flow easily. The result can be extremely unpleasant if you ignore it.