During winter months, property owners and occupiers face a number of increased risks.
Large escape of water losses are especially common, with wintry conditions and freezing temperatures leading to burst pipes, cracked water tanks and blocked drains.
Even more common minor problems, such as boiler breakdowns, can result in significant disruption to residents and your organisation, costing valuable time and resources to manage.
By taking the following precautions, you can help minimise the risk to your properties and increase their resilience to wintry weather.
1. Maintenance and general preparations
- Routine building inspections should be carried out year- round to identify potential issues and undertake essential maintenance. Your formal risk assessment should inform the frequency of these inspections
- During autumn, special attention should be given to areas such as roof insulation, pipe lagging, boiler maintenance and the external fabric of the building
- Implement regular maintenance contracts for tasks such as the clearing of gutters and drains. This will limit the risk of blockages that can lead to water penetrating your building
- Keep building plans that identify stopcock locations readily available. This will enable water to be quickly shut off in an emergency
- Check your roof for potential problems such as loose, cracked or missing tiles. You can survey the roof from the ground, to see if anything’s obviously wrong – look out for shards of tile or grit in the gutters and on the floor – but it’s best to get a professional to fully survey
- Keep a careful eye on trees that could fall onto the property in stormy weather
2. Water heating systems
- Always leave boilers and other water heating systems running during winter months, even when a property is temporarily unoccupied
- Maintaining an ambient temperature is essential for avoiding many issues. We recommend maintaining a minimum temperature of 10°C throughout your properties
- Activate your thermostat’s frost setting. This prompts the system to come on automatically during cold weather, which might otherwise not happen if your thermostat is only set to come on at certain times of the day
- Check when you last carried out a full service. Heating systems, and particularly boilers, need to be inspected and maintained on a regular basis
3. Pipes and water tanks
- Inspect your whole system for potential defects or vulnerabilities. Pay particular attention to areas exposed to cold conditions, such as pipes or tanks situated outside the property or in roof spaces
- Ensure exposed pipes and water tanks are adequately lagged. This provides essential protection against freezing conditions
- Insulate or fully drain outdoor taps between uses.