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 Looks like the big freeze is finally here! Take note of our top tips for keeping your home winter-proof.

Temperatures are plummeting over the coming weeks. Cold snaps like these don’t only lead to hazardous frozen conditions, but can also cause major problems such as frozen and burst pipes.

Now is the time to make sure that you are preparing your property for the cold conditions.

  • Make sure that your paths are gritted to avoid ice build-up
  • Remember to tackle any draughty doors or windows
  • Take time to check that your home is well insulated and your pipes are lagged
  • Inspect your loft insulation to make sure it’s up to challenge of the cold weather
  • Ensure that water is not dripping from pipes or over-flows

And of course, make sure you have quality Home Insurance cover in force. If you have any queries about your existing cover, simply call us on 02476 508090.  If you need a new policy, talk to one of our friendly advisers now, on 0844 249 5940.

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Pipes

Pipes which are in the roof space (or are exposed to draughts) should be lagged (insulated) with felt or pipe wrap. They should then be covered with a waterproof material, as insulation doesn’t work very well if it gets wet.

As insulation in lofts has improved, the temperature in this area can seriously drop in cold weather. Even if the central heating stays on, burst pipes can still happen and will cause major water damage to the whole property. As a result, it’s really important that pipes in the roof space are properly protected.

Storage cistern

The storage cistern (which is often in the loft) should be lagged – preferably with a pre-formed insulation kit, or with polythene bags filled with glass wool, or some other loose insulation fill. These materials are available at good DIY stores.

DO NOT put the insulation material under the cistern, as this will stop the natural warmth coming through from the rooms below. The cistern should already have a tough lid which is strong enough to carry insulation on top. Never use a prefabricated sheet of insulation material instead of a lid, as it’s likely to break up and fall into the water.

Also, DO NOT cover the cistern with old carpet or furnishings. These will not only get damp and be useless as insulation, but could also cause dirt to drop into the cistern and contaminate the water.

Empty home

Leaving a house empty during a cold spell can cause problems. Without precautions being taken, damage to the building and contents is more likely to occur. If you intend to leave a house unattended, arrange for the pipes and fittings to be drained down; but only after you have shut off any water heating appliances.

When you return, make sure that the system is properly refilled and free of airlocks and that the cistern ball valves are working freely, before turning on the water. It’s best to get a plumber to sort this out, as they will be aware of possible difficulties such as the risk of collapsing hot water cylinders if the draining happens too suddenly.

Know where your control points are

To shut down the supply, you will need to use the main stop valve. If you don’t know where it is, it’s better to find it NOW rather than wait for an emergency. It’s likely to be just inside the building, probably under the kitchen sink or in the airing cupboard. There may also be a stop valve buried under a box in the front garden or under the outside path, which will need a long key to operate it.  Although shutting either of these valves will stop water coming into the house, you will still need to operate the stop valves next to the storage cistern (usually in the loft) to stop the water in the pipes flowing to the hot water system, the lavatory and the cold taps.

Make sure that all boilers are switched off before you shut off the water supply. Houses built during the last ten years or so are often fitted with draining taps, which are usually next to the inside stop valve. However, if your house doesn’t have these taps, you may be able to drain the system by using the taps over the baths and basins.

Alternatively, leave the central heating on and use a thermostat to make sure a minimum temperature of 58°F (15°C) is maintained inside the house at all times.

It’s really important that you arrange for your boiler to be serviced annually, and it’s best to get this done in the summer months so you know it’s in good working order for winter.


If you are in any doubt about any of the information provided above –
please consult a reputable tradesman for assistance.

  • ake sure that your gutters are clear and free of autumn leaves

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