How to protect your homes from ice and snow

Snow and ice can wreak havoc on homes and cause frozen and burst pipes to roof leaks

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 16 March 2023 08:45 GMT
UK weather: The latest Met Office forecast

The Met Office forecast for snow across the UK and icy weather both pose a challenge over potential damage to homes.

The Met Office has already issued a yellow warning for snow and ice, with more areas in the Midlands, much of Wales and the southeast, including London, under alert for snow on Tuesday morning as Arctic air sweeps across the country.

As conditions are set to worsen over the week, with thick snow set to cover several areas, homeowners could face large repair bills if they don’t protect their homes, experts warn.

Snow and ice can wreak havoc on homes, from frozen and burst pipes to roof leaks from heavy snow on the roof, all of which could result in costly repair bills, say experts.

“Wintry weather will always be challenging for our homes, but when spring is right around the corner, cold snaps can be unexpected and many people may not be prepared for the damage that cold weather can do to properties,” says Natalie White, head of brand communications at the find-a-tradesperson platform Rated People.

However, Ms White says taking a few simple steps can weatherproof your home, to avoid forking out for an unexpected and unwelcome repair bill.

Here’s how you can avoid costly repair bills and protect your homes from the upcoming cold snap:

Check your roof

A broken or missing roof tile is a common culprit for potential leaks. Before the winter season, it’s important to check your roof for any damages, such as missing or broken tiles, according to the Met Office.

Rated People experts suggest you can usually spot any issues by walking around your home and looking up at your roof. If you notice any damage, ask a local tradesperson to inspect further and fix the issue for you.

Remove snow from roofs

If you’ve been hit with heavy snowfall, it’s important to remove snow from your roof as soon as possible, experts say.

Heavy snow can cause excessive pressure on the structure of your roof, particularly flat roofs. This can lead to sagging ceiling boards, cracks in the walls and leaks in the roof, which are all tell-tale signs that your roof is struggling with the weight and could collapse.

To remove snow from your roof, you can use a snow rake to scrape snow off your roof onto the ground at the earliest opportunity, suggests Rated People. However, it’s best to leave a small amount of snow on your roof so you don’t damage your roofing materials when raking.

Know what to do in a powercut

As the country faces unpredictable weather conditions ahead, including heavy snow, it is essential to be prepared for a possible power cut. Forecasters say some rural areas can face disruptions to power and phone services this week.

The Met Office recommends that homeowners keep the number of their Electricity Distribution Network Operator (DNO) handy, which can be easily contacted by dialing 105.

Here’s more on what to do in the event of a power cut.

Get your boiler serviced and bleed your radiators

Cold spots in your system are more vulnerable to damage when there’s cold weather, warn experts from Rated People, so you should have your boiler serviced regularly to make sure it can cope with cold snaps.

Bleeding radiators will get rid of any air pockets in the pipes which can put more pressure on boilers.

All you need is a radiator key and an old piece of material to soak up any water that leaks out during the process. To find out if you need to bleed your radiators, simply place your hands on your radiator and if you can feel any cold spots, you should bleed them.

Insulate your pipes

To prevent internal and external pipes from freezing during icy temperatures, you can protect them with pipe lagging, that is, having a foam tube go around the pipes to insulate them.

You can fit this yourself or get an expert tradesperson to carry out the task.

Focus on heating drainpipes, overflowing pipes outside and internal pipes in the colder areas of your home, like basements, garages and lofts as well as water tanks.

Clean your gutters regularly

Another important task to protect your home from snow and ice damage is to clean your gutters regularly. When gutters are clogged with debris, the weight of ice buildup can pull the guttering away from your house, causing permanent damage to your roof.

To avoid the build up of leaves in the guttering, the best thing to do is prune your trees before winter really kicks in, says the Met Office. This can also help with avoiding snow building up on the trees, which bringswith it the risk of damage from broken branches.

If your gutters are damaged, melting snow will have no place to travel, leading to leaks in your home when temperatures rise, suggests Rated People.

To avoid these issues, clean your gutters before the winter season hits and remove any debris, leaves or twigs. This will ensure melting snow has a clear pathway to exit the gutters and won’t cause any damage to your home.

Draught-proof your rooms

Keeping your home warm during the winter season is crucial to avoid any potential damages. Draught-proofing your rooms can help you prevent heat loss and keep your home warm and comfortable. You can use draught excluders to prevent heat loss and seal any gaps in your window frames to avoid draughts.

A quick temporary fix for draughts is to use rolled-up blankets and towels. This is a cheap and effective way to prevent heat loss and keep your home warm during the winter season.

Ensure you’re insured

The Met Office recommends homeowners to ensure their building’s insurance policy is up to date and covers what they need it to.

This is particularly important if you live in an area prone to harsh weather conditions. Adequate insurance coverage can help you recover financially if your property suffers damage caused by weather-related incidents such as storms, heavy snow or floods.

Having the right insurance can provide peace of mind and help take care of your home and belongings in the event of an emergency.

It is also important to note that many insurance policies have exclusions, so it is crucial to read terms and conditions carefully to ensure you are fully covered for weather-related damage to your property.

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