October 13, 2020
Autumn Property Update
Whilst we are still in the grip of the Coronavirus Pandemic, almost everything else in life is taking a back seat. However, with the Autumn and Winter months now upon us, property owners and occupiers face a number of increased risks that need to be addressed.
Escape of water losses are particularly common, with wintry conditions and freezing temperatures leading to burst pipes, cracked water tanks and blocked drains.
Even minor problems such as boiler breakdowns, which are common occurrences, can result in significant disruption costing valuable time and inconvenience.
By taking the following precautions, you can minimise the risk to your property and increase 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. Formal risk assessments 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 the 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 the 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
4. Sprinkler systems
- Ensure that heating is present in the sprinkler valve room and it is kept at an ambient temperature
- During winter months switch the alternate systems to air (recommended November to May)
- Check when the sprinkler system was last serviced. Ensure sprinklers receive full and regular maintenance
5. Permanently unoccupied properties
- You must ensure we are notified if your property is permanently unoccupied, or unoccupied for longer than the maximum period detailed in your policy
- If permanently unoccupied, we recommend disconnecting the property’s water supplies and draining all pipes, tanks and heating system
- However, if only temporarily unoccupied, heating systems should always be left on, to maintain an ambient temperature and avoid freezing or cracking
- Ensure doors and windows are closed and fit tightly
Should you have any queries or require any specific advice in relation to your property, please get in touch with your usual Wilsons contact or call the office and one of the team will be happy to help you.