Winter tips for keeping our property safe during this time

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As a landlord it is important to ensure that your property is kept safe and make sure that you winter proof your property. This can save money in the long term for you not only in insurance claims but also any damage that may occur that may not be insured.

We enclose some tips that may help you in this regard:-

Servicing your boiler

It is so important that the boiler is serviced on a regular basis.  This will ensure and show whether there are any leaks to the boiler or any other issues on the system.

You may wish to consider a power wash

A power wash is a chemical solution that cleanses the central heating system and removes any elements inside the pipes such as rust or debris that may cause it not to work well.  If let inside the system it can cause serious problems to the heating.  Over time the water in the pipes, boiler and radiator produce unwanted dirt and can cause the radiators not to give out as much heat or cause the boiler to break down completely.

A power flush removes the sludge in the system, preventing blockages and central heating in efficiency.  It means that radiators and the boiler will work more efficiently when heating the property and prolong the life of the heating system.

Are there signs that you need a power flush?

Below are some of the most common signs that central heating may need a power flush.

  1. Radiators and boilers are noisy
  2. Leaks are coming from the radiator
  3. Radiators have cold patches particularly the bottom
  4. The boiler keeps breaking down and needs to be restarted
  5. Excessive noise from the boiler or the heating system pump
  6. Your central heating takes longer than expected to warm up
  7. Cloudy tap water
  8. Some radiators struggle to heat up as well as others
  9. Your radiators are not getting warm. Even when the boiler is turned on
  10. No escape of water when you bleed the radiator

Check the roof

It is important that you ensure that your roof is in good shape before the cold comes in.

You should perhaps consider the following:-

Carry out an inside inspection.

Start in the attic and look for the following:-

  1. Sagging
  2. Water ingress
  3. Dark patches
  4. Sunlight shining through

If there are signs of damage then perhaps you need to look at getting a contractor in

Watch out for loss and damaged roof tiles

Check whether you can see any roof tiles that have become broken, loose, displaced or cracked.  You can normally see this from the street or with a pair of binoculars.

Check the flashing.

Chimneys, skylights, vents, satellite dishes and other objects on your roof are sealed with metal strips called “flashing” these can become damaged during bad weather. Make sure that the flashing sits flush against the roof and that there are no gaps where water can seep in and if there are consider getting a specialist contractor in.

Flashing can slip over a period of time so it is important that you check whether there is any movement and replace anything that looks rusty.

Clear gutters and drains.  Blocked and damaged guttering can cause serious damage to your property.  The water can build up and pour underneath your eaves or leak and run down the external walls of your home and enter your foundations.   It is always worth doing a visual check for sagging gutters from the ground before getting a specialist in.

There are companies nowadays that are able to deal with any form of blockages on your property from the ground.  It is important that you consider this.  You might also find that there might be moss starting to grow.  Whilst this might look harmless it can cause moisture damage to the roof tiles and wood underneath.  In summer this can spread fast so it is best to catch it before it gets out of control.

Inspect and insulate your water pipes

It is worth ensuring that downpipes are not cracked or split and whilst you could insult the pipes to stop them from freezing or getting blocked or breaking.  Putting foam on pipes can help reduce the freezing of them.  You may wish to look for the pipes in the loft to see whether you can insulate these as it’s the main area for trapping heat in the home.  The loft space is often colder so water pipes in the loft are more prone to freezing.  You should protect these pipes by lagging them. Lagging simply means adding insulation to the water pipes and is easy to do with foam tubes.  It prevents them from freezing and helps any exposed hot water pipe retain their heat when running through the heated pipes of the house.

Check windows and doors

It would be best to do a visual inspection of the outside of your house, inspect all the areas and different material that meets all exterior corners, outdoor water faucets, where siding and chimneys meet and areas where the foundation and the bottom of the exterior brick and siding meet.

Inside your home you need to look at the electrical outlets, switch plates, doors and window frames, electrical and gas service entrances, base boards, and weather stripping around doors, fireplace dampeners, attic hatches and cable and phone lines.  You’re looking for gaps and areas that you feel may let in the cold at the property.

Review your review your insulation.

Review your insulation at the property.

There are often areas that you could insulate and mainly the loft.  This is where a huge amount of heat escapes from the property.

There are several types of loft insulation that you can choose from such as Batt or blanket loft insulation, loss fill insulation, sheet insulation and blown fibre.

Batt or blanket loft insulation.  This is the most common type of insulation and is available from rolls of four backed felt, rock glass or mineral fibre.  They are straightforward to install and some brands use recycled glass or sheep’s wool and are good for insulation access spaces.  Be careful though that the material can irritate the skin the sheep’s wool can be more expensive and rolls of blanket can also be too bulky to fit in small spaces.

Loose fill loft insulation

This is made from various granular and light weight material such as core granules, mineral wood or fibre.  Green types do include recycled paper.  They fit easily and in irregular spaces and are useful for topping up insulation in attics. Unfortunately they can come loose in draughty lofts and safety equipment and safety clothing are needed during the installation.

Sheet loft insulation

Sheet insulation is designed for insulating sloping rooves and comes in the form of firm board stops.  You may need a supplier and a specialist for this.  You can get greener sheet loft insulations that are excellent for insulating loft conversions, can be covered with plaster board or attractive finish,, they have a high insulation value per thickness and some boards come with their own system of attachment.

However, please note that synthetic sheet materials use a large amount of energy during production and can be more expensive than other types of loft insulation.

Blown – fibre loft insulation

You will need a specialist contractor for blown fibre insulation.  Although it is quick and easy to install it will be done by a professional, they are greener options for this such as recycled paper or wool, they are ideal for insulating areas where access is difficult and it is light and convenient to handle and cut.  They can unfortunately be more expensive than other types of loft insulation and are not recommended for insulating draughty lofts.

Radiator checks

It might be worth getting a professional to come in and look at the radiators to ensure that they are as efficient as is possible.  This often happens where radiators need bleeding where they are cold on one part but not on the other.  They could increase the efficiency of the radiators and remove the need for a replacement.

Check the chimney

It may be worth looking to clean out obstruction or blockages within your chimney if they have a fireplace. You are obviously no doubt aware that there are now certain rules regarding fireplaces and especially when it comes to co2 detectors.  There are very heavy risks with chimney fires which can be costly and dangerous.  Owing to its severity we would suggest that it is very important you instruct a chimney sweep to look at the property for you and make sure that you are safe.

Think about your insurance

Does your policy actually cover you for burst pipes etc?  It is so important that you check these things and make sure that you have the correct insurance.

Talk to your tenants

Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants means that they are more than likely to help you keeping the property in good condition and they will let you know if anything is wrong.  Make sure that you have all the details that they need about the property including the location of the stop cock and the need to turn off the water supply if there is a leak

Condensation

In winter any condensation problems do have a tendency to get worse and can cause mould to form.  Make sure you encourage your tenants to maintain an even temperature throughout the property allowing heat to circulate keeping internal doors open and using draft excluders where necessary to improve insulation and reduce any form of condensation.

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