Take precautions during a cold snap
An insurer of heritage, education, and church properties is encouraging people to take precautions during severe weather this winter.
Cold weather means more problems for heritage properties and Ecclesiastical Insurance has shared practical advice for property owners to be aware of the most common issues that can arise.
Keep an eye on your pipes, gutters, gullies and your roof.
• If you discover a frozen pipe, don’t wait for it to burst. Turn off your water supply and then slowly thaw the affected pipe by introducing gentle heat to the area e.g. by using a hairdryer, space heater or hot water bottle. Do not attempt to thaw the pipe with a blow torch or other open flame
• If the worst happens and you do have a burst pipe, turn off the water supply at the stopcock and try to catch any excess water in a bucket or other container. Do not use any electrics if you believe they may have been affected by the escaping water. You will need to have these checked by a professional electrician
• Unfortunately, slips and trips can happen, particularly when there is ice and snow on the ground. You should take actions that are ‘reasonable in the circumstances’. This can include ensuring that entry and exit routes are kept free of anything which may cause a person to slip and taking preventative measures, such as clearing and gritting paths
• Temporary heaters should not be left unattended for long periods or used when the building is unoccupied, and should never be moved once they have been switched on
• You should also check for damaged seals on the windows, if there are gaps, water may be let in which could cause the frame to swell, jam or rot
• Ensure any overhanging trees or foliage are cut back to prevent possible damage to the property by storm winds
• For those really terrible days when you don’t want to leave the house, it’s good to have your cupboards stocked so you don’t have to. Tins and frozen food will last a long time and prevent you from having to venture out in unsavoury weather conditions
• Check on elderly or vulnerable neighbours
• If you are going away for an extended break, drain down and shut off your water system, and ask somebody to check on your property regularly.
Paul Collins, Head of Risk Services at Ecclesiastical Insurance Ireland, said: “We know the impact that extreme weather conditions can have on our customers, and this is a timely reminder for them to take steps to prepare for the winter. Every year we take calls from people who have suffered damage to their property as a result of cold weather. The repairs can be costly and cause a huge amount of disruption. Some of the steps customers can take include carrying out simple visual checks of the property to identify issues such as overgrown vegetation, loose roof materials, damaged guttering, or blocked rainwater gullies and allow simple maintenance measures to be put in place.
“Careful maintenance and risk management can help prevent property damage and/or injury during the winter months. Protect yourself and your property this season and reach out to an expert if you have any questions.”