The recent cold weather isn’t only a nuisance for drivers and dog-walkers, but it can wreak havoc for landlords too. Aviva, an insurance company, has issued guidance for homeowners and landlords as we face even colder weather later this month.
You can never be too careful when facing cold weather. Just turning up your heating isn’t enough to prevent damage to your home, which, if left unacknowledged, can be very expensive. Andrew Morrish, the UK claims director for Aviva, says, “freezing temperatures can cause havoc to homes and businesses, and if properties are uninhabited, issues can go undetected for longer. However, there are some simple and inexpensive things that can be done to protect.”
In cold weather, often the most concerning thing to worry about is freezing water. Damage caused by freezing water, or leaking water, from pipes, tanks and heating systems are covered under insurance policies. However, it’s better to prevent than claim and risk your policy price increasing the next year.
So what can you do to protect your pipes in plummeting temperatures?
If your taps aren’t working, the shower is broken, and your heating is playing up, it’s more than likely you will have frozen pipes. If the cold weather is already rolling in, double-check your pipes are still working and are running freely. Don’t forget to check those outdoors or in garages too!
If you have frozen taps, there is something you can do to try and get the water flowing. If you can access the pipe, try warming it up with a hairdryer – go gently and don’t give it too much heat at first. While you’re doing this, please turn on the tap or water supply and keep it running. Keep this going until the water starts to flow again.
However, a frozen pipe can often burst, which can be havoc for a landlord if not appropriately handled. If your pipes have burst, then turn off the water at the main stop cock. This will prevent lots of water from escaping and minimise the damage to the home and further expenses. It would be best to switch off central heating and other water heating installations to avoid further damage. Open all the taps to drain the system and call your insurer as soon as possible.
If you want to prevent burst pipes and the hassle which follows, then follow these top tips:
- One of the leading causes of freezing pipes is a lack of lagging. If you have pipes and tanks in the loft or anywhere else likely to be colder (such as the garage) then lagging is necessary. This insulation ensures that the water flowing through the pipes remains hot and reduces the likelihood it will freeze.
- If you are a landlord or property developer with multiple homes, some of which are empty, then consider leaving the heating on. With no one to use the heating, shower or hot water consistently throughout the day, it’s essential that the water isn’t left to freeze in unoccupied homes. It would help if you also opened the hatch to the loft so that warm air can circulate to any pipes up there.
- In case a burst pipe does happen, you need to make sure you can access and turn off the stop cock. Before the temperatures start to drop, find the main stop cock and make sure you can turn it on and off. It is typically underneath your kitchen sink, but there should also be an access point outside your home.
Make sure you consider these tips if you want to reduce the likelihood of being called out to fix frozen pipes or having to cover costly expenses for damage in one of your property developments.
To find the answers to your buy-to-let maintenance questions, simply ask away in the Buy-to-Let property investment thread on Property Forum, to get advice from fellow landlords and property investors.