Many of us felt the chill last winter, as most of the UK succumbed to the Big Freeze.
However, there are some simple precautions you can take to ensure your house is well prepared against the cold weather - which will hopefully prevent major problems and cost later on.
- Check around the outside of your property for leaking pipes, blocked drains and loose or missing tiles. Get an expert in to clean/fix them. Houses don't do well if water can sneak in where it's not supposed to at the best of times, but freezing temperatures can make things even worse - and more costly in the long run.
- Get a sack of grit salt way before you need to, so icy paths and driveways don't catch you unawares.
- Buy a plastic snow shovel - so much easier to use to clear snow than a garden spade (which do jar rather on hard surfaces!)
- Check your car cooling system has sufficient anti-freeze in it.
- Make sure you know where the water tap coming into the house is - and that it works. If a pipe should freeze and burst, you'll need to be able to control the flow.
- Repair dripping taps and make sure they're properly turned off when not in use - in particularly cold weather drips can freeze before they drop, and if left long enough can cause blockages and burst pipes.
- If your house is going to be unoccupied for more than a few days, turn off the water supply. If possible leave low level heating on in the background. You can always pour salt down sinks and drains to help prevent freezing. You could even leave your loft area open to ensure warmer air circulates, preventing pipes and tanks from freezing.
- Make sure your loft is insulated properly to avoid loss of heat and energy through the roof - it'll help keep your fuel bills down.
- If a burst pipe occurs, turn off the main water supply into the house, and turn on the taps in your bathroom and kitchen. Then call in the experts!
- Check with elderly or vulnerable neighbours whether they need any help, and make sure they know they can call on you if they need to. And if you are that vulnerable person, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it, or accept it when offered.
- Carry a spare snow shovel, snow/wellie boots, blankets, coats, snacks and drink in your car - if you do get stuck you might as well be comfortable and prepared!
Don't forget to check out thebestof Bromley Business Directory for details of local plumbers and handymen - trades that could help you avoid a lot of inconvenience.
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Kim Frances is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.
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