Be ready for the cold snap – some tips to help protect your property

As we enter what is often the coldest month of the year, February, we thought it would be a good idea to run through a few tips on how to ensure that the plummeting temperatures and possible onset of ice and snow don’t have too negative an impact on your rental property.  There are several steps you can take, on both the inside and outside your home, some obvious, some a little less so…

Indoors:

How to prevent the pipes from freezing

It’s important to try and ensure that the water in the pipes doesn’t freeze and there are a number of things you can do to help prevent that.  Leaving the heating on low (even when you are not home) is a good idea, as this will feed hot water to the radiators (make sure they have been bled, so they can work to maximum effect).  If the temperature really drops, you can leave a couple of taps running a little, as the movement of the water through the pipes will also prevent a freeze.  However, if the worst happens and the water does freeze in the pipes, make sure you know where the stopcock is so that you can turn the water off, should the need arise.

Air-flow and ventilation

Having good air-flow and ventilation around the house is advisable.  You could open the doors between different rooms to help the heat move around the property and opening the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink will also help with warm air-flow.

If there are any exposed pipes around the property, it would be a good idea to cover them up to help keep them warm.  If you don’t have access to any insulating foam, wrapping a towel, bubble-wrap, or even newspaper, will also work.

Outdoors:

Cover exposed pipes

As above, cover all exposed pipes.  Remember, the exterior pipes will be much colder as they are completely exposed to the cold weather.  Monitor the advance weather reports and if there is a freeze coming, try to get outside and wrap the pipes in advance.  Again, insulating foam is best, but the most important thing is to cover up the pipes to protect them from the elements. Likewise for any outdoor taps, disconnecting any garden hoses first.

Bring plants indoors

Some outdoor plants are hardy enough to survive a frost, but many are not, so bring indoors any that you think may not survive.  Also, bear in mind that not all plant-pots are frost resistant, so even if you think your plant may survive the frost, its pot may not!

Brush snow from branches

If you have a garden or back-yard, keep an eye on tree branches, both in the garden and overhanging it.  If there is a heavy snowfall, the extra weight may cause the branches to snap and fall, so use an outdoor brush to knock away the excess snow.

Make sure you also remove any gutter debris to prevent water/ice or snow backing up, as this can cause leaks and/or the build-up of ice dams.

Clear a path

Try to keep the pavement outside your home and the path to your front door clear of snow and ice.  This is a good, neighbourly, thing to do, but may also be stipulated in your lease agreement as a requirement.  However, be aware that half-hearted attempts at snow-clearing can actually do more harm than good.  Current government advice suggests that snow should be cleared from the middle of the path towards the side as early in the day as possible, with the area then laid with grit salt or sand to prevent re-freezing.  You may have to repeat the process later on, but do not use water, as this can quickly freeze and become black ice, potentially making the area even more hazardous than it was to begin with.

Don’t forget the car

If you have a car, don’t forget the scraper and the de-icer.  Some people like to pour warm water onto the icy window taking care to ensure the water is not too hot (and most definitely not boiling), as this can cause cracks in the glass.  Another trick is to fill a hot water bottle with hot water and press that against the windscreen to melt the ice.

And lastly…

Lastly, of course, be sure that you have the phone number of your landlord/rental agency to hand, in case you find yourself facing an emergency that you don’t feel equipped to deal with.

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