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How to winter-proof your home

The weather is drawing in and the nights are getting longer. Perhaps we can look forward to the cosiness of being tucked up in a warm home.

But  if you want to avoid the heartbreak of loss or damage and the hassle of claiming on your home contents insurance it is worth bearing in mind that winter can bring with it as many hazards as pleasures.
The first potential hazard to worry about is the freezing weather.

First up, make sure your house doesn’t get too cold, as this will help it from getting damp (which can be very destructive) and will also help to prevent pipes freezing and bursting.
It’s vital to make sure your insulation is in good shape, especially in the loft as most heat will escape through the roof.

Cottage in snow pic

Then go through this winter weather checklist: 

• Ensure any outside pipes are insulated to prevent them freezing.

• Make sure you know where the stopcock is in case of a leak, and that you are able to close it easily.

• Insulate the sides and top of the water tank in the loft, but leave the underside clear so it can be warmed by the heat of the house below.

• If you’re going away for a few days in very cold weather, leave the loft hatch open so the warmth from the house can circulate.

• You should also leave the heating on at a constant low (at least 15°C) if you’re going away to prevent the pipes freezing.

Open fire and cosy candles may be tempting at this time of year but it is also worth bearing in mind the potential fire hazards.

• Install smoke detectors around your home, and test them regularly.

• Avoid leaving candles unattended, and place them away from draughts or places where they may be knocked over.
• Place guards in front of open fires.

• Have one or two fire extinguishers around your home, such as in the kitchen or a room with a fireplace, and make sure you know how to use them.

• Always switch off electric blankets before getting into bed.

• When setting off fireworks on Bonfire Night or New Year’s Eve, make sure to do it well away from the house, and clear of any overhanging trees.

Of course the best answer of all is to have an adequate home insurance policy in place.

By Steve McDowell

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Family Building Society
Ebbisham House
30 Church Street
Epsom
Surrey KT17 4NL
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