Protect your home from severe weather

Is your home winter ready? Wintery conditions can cause damage to your home, so taking simple measures this winter can help protect you home from damage caused by bad weather.

Winters in Ireland can be harsh and can take their toll on your home. But there are ways to protect your home especially during winter months. In this article we are going to outline the main severe weather conditions which affect Irish homes and what can be done to limit the damage associated with them.

Freezing temperature prevention tips

Freezing temperatures can cause a lot of unforeseen damage to a home. Most of this can be avoided by following these tips:

External: When temperatures drop, spread salt on garden paths, driveways and external porches so ice cannot form and cause a slipping hazard. Ensure that there are no cracks in any bricks, slates or tiles as water can get into them, freeze, expand and cause more damage.

Internal: The main problem associated with indoors in relation to freezing cold temperatures is that of frozen and bursting pipes. Following the below tips will help ensure that you can prevent your home’s pipes from leaking and limit the amount of water loss damage associated with them if and when they do leak:

  • Schedule regular maintenance: All parts of a fixed water system, such as boilers, radiators stop valves, taps and all piping should be inspected by a qualified plumber at least once a year, particularly in the run up to the cold winter months.

  • Consider automatic leak detection systems: Advanced devices can detect and automatically shut off the water supply if leaks are detected, preventing further damage.

  • Apply insulating lagging to pipes: Ensure that pipes are all adequately lagged (insulated), particularly in cold areas like the attic, outbuildings or where pipes are external, so they do not freeze. Water tanks and cisterns should also be fitted with adequate lagging insulation. Ensure that insulation is on top of roof piping, not under, to benefit from heating coming from below.

  • Open attic door to allow in heat: Leaving the attic door open while the heating is on will allow warm air to reach pipes high up in the attic and prevent them from freezing.

  • Fix dripping taps: Replacing taps’ washers will stop dripping in most cases.

  • Set timed heating while away: If you are away from home over the winter months, set the heating to come on when the temperature drops below a certain point to prevent freezing.

  • Drain the system: If your home is to be unoccupied for a long time, drain all systems of water as this will ensure that no freezing can occur.

  • More information on how to limit the damage associated with frozen pipes can be found in our article on Leaking Water Damage Prevention.

Preventing home flooding

The following tips can help you to prepare for flooding, minimising and even prevent flood damage to your home:

  • Ensure that temporary flood defences are put in place such as sandbags, flood boards, floodgates and airbrick covers etc. Ideally you should have your own supply in place in case emergency services cannot reach you.
  • Ensure that any valuable or sentimental items are stored upstairs or in the attic so flood water cannot reach and damage them.
  • Plug sinks, bathtubs and low-level shower trays and weigh them down to prevent backflow – do not try to drain floodwater with these.
  • Switch off gas, electricity and water if your home is likely to become flooded as this will reduce the risk of fire, electrocution and further damages.

Protecting against storm damage

If a storm is forecast, doing the following will enable you to limit the amount of damage incurred by your home. The best way to prevent damage is to make sure that you watch out for any signs that maintenance is needed to your property and act on it before it’s too late:

  • Ensure that items in the garden are either placed indoors or are tied down, particularly barbeques and trampolines.
  • Gates should be bolted shut so they do not swing dangerously in the wind.
  • Keep your fences and boundary walls in good condition so that they will be sturdy in a storm.
  • Make sure that drainpipes and gutters are properly fixed in place and free from clutter which could become hazardous debris in a storm.
  • Keep gutters and drains clear so that rainwater can drain away.
  • Replace any blown brickwork and fill in any cracks that you find.
  • Keep external woodwork in good condition and renew weatherproof coatings on a regular basis.
  • Ensure that any slipped or cracked slates and tiles are fixed or replaced as soon as possible.
  • Look out for cracked or loose cement around ridge tiles or chimneys and get them repaired.
  • Check on roof coverings regularly and replace them when they show signs of deterioration.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances to avoid damage from power surges.

About: How do you better protect your world?

Having your property and possessions protected by Zurich’s home insurance comes with the peace of mind that should the worst happen, we’ll be there to help when you need us.

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