When freezing weather and snow are forecast, you can expect some hazardous conditions at home and on the roads. Taking a few simple precautions now can help you prepare for the chill and minimise the risk of damage:
Preparing your car
- Ensure your vehicle is fully maintained prior to the onset of winter. At the very least, have your local garage carry out a winter check.
- Check your battery, as cold weather drains it faster. Ask your garage to look at it and consider buying a conditioner/intelligent charger.
- Check your tyre pressure and tread (it should be at least 3mm). Winter or all-season tyres offer additional grip if you live in a remote area or drive a lot. Snow chains are a cheaper alternative for roads with compacted ice and snow.
- Keep an eye on your antifreeze level – a frozen or cracked engine block is expensive to repair. Your handbook will tell you the correct type and concentration.
- See and be seen – check your light bulbs, ensure your wipers are in good repair and that your de-mister works. Top-up your washer fluid and make sure you have an ice scraper in your car.
- Have windscreen chips mended as they can crack in the cold.
- Make sure your fuel tank is at least a quarter full in case you’re caught in unexpected traffic jams caused by the snow.
- Put Vaseline on door seals and WD-40 on locks to stop them freezing.
- Stock your car with an emergency kit: a shovel, warning triangle, torch and batteries, blanket, de-icer, mobile phone and charger, breakdown membership card, flask with a hot drink, tow rope, thick cardboard or material (for wheel traction), outdoor clothes, sunglasses (for glare).
Preparing your home
- Lag your pipes to minimise the risk of them freezing, cracking and causing a flood. Use 75mm pre-formed foam, available from DIY shops.
- Use insulation that’s at least 27cm thick in your loft to help prevent pipes and water tanks freezing – and keep your heating bills down.
- Invest in a pre-formed jacket to lag your water tank.
- Have your boiler serviced by a gas safe accredited professional.
- Repair dripping taps - drips can freeze, blocking and damaging your pipes.
- Keep your home in good repair, as you can’t claim for damage caused by wear and tear or poor workmanship.
- If you’re going away keep your heating on at a low temperature (about 15 degrees) and leave your loft hatch and the doors of cupboards housing pipes open so warm air can circulate. This will stop them freezing.
- Turn your stopcock off and consider draining pipes and radiators if you are away for extended periods.
- Ask someone to call in to check everything’s OK.
- If you’re away for more than 30 or 60 days (check your policy) and you’re an Aviva customer, let us know so that we can extend your cover.
Preparing the outside of your home
- Ensure your roof is in good repair and fix any problems. Pay particular attention to junctions where materials meet e.g. ridges, eaves, valleys and parapets. Consider attaching a snow guard to your conservatory.
- Clear gutters and downspouts of debris to prevent blockages and water damage.
- Check that your TV aerial, satellite dish and any solar panels are securely fixed and in good repair.
- Inspect your walls and chimneys to ensure the bricks and mortar are in good condition and snow can’t get in.
- Sand and repaint chipped or blistered paintwork to stop the frost and snow creating further problems.
- Mend dripping outside taps to help prevent them freezing and bursting. Switch off your outside water supply if you don’t need it.
- Lag outdoor taps and pipes with pre-formed foam that’s at least 75mm thick.
- Repair your shed, garage and outbuildings and ensure that they’re watertight.
- Clear garden clutter such as a rake or children’s toys – when covered by snow, you could trip over them.
- Put away garden furniture, ornaments and pot plants to stop them being damaged.
- Prune branches to stop them breaking under heavy snow and trim creepers and moss from walls as they can retain water, harming brickwork.
Read our next article for more advice on how to look after your car and home during heavy snow.
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