Forecasting the long range weather, by professional forecasters, is becoming more difficult, bearing in mind the unexpected ‘Big Freeze’ of 2010-2011, which brought snow twice that year.

Preparing your home from the perils of a freeze period, not only will protect and safeguard your investment, but will avoid unnecessary distress, physical discomfort and a lengthy insurance claim procedure with your Building Insurers. The most common claim for damage, is caused by frozen pipes. Without doubt, having your central heating boiler serviced annually by a Gas Safe engineer, is paramount.

Here are some pointers to consider, when a freeze period is predicted:

• Keep the central heating temperature at the minimum of 12C to 15C, if it is forecast to freeze.
• Insulate pipes in the attic and have a minimum of 10 inches of loft insulation, more, around the cold water tank.
• Leave doors open to kitchen and bathroom cabinets, to allow warmer air to circulate and reach pipes under sinks and in adjacent outside walls.
• Leave the loft hatch door open, to allow warmer air to reach the loft, as this will help prevent the cold water tank from freezing.
• Turn off the water supply to outside garden taps and ensure these have been insulated.
• Place a football in the garden pond or swimming pool, which surprisingly, will reduce the likelihood of it freezing over.
• When freezing conditions exist, keep a watch on your gutters and icicles forming, which can bring them crashing down, because of its weight. Ideally, rainwater gutter support holders should be positioned 1 metre apart, as this will form a `better stability if icicles occur. Purchase a roof rake, to remove snow and icicles. Ensure you have positioned snow protectors to the gutters over porches and conservatories.
• Any tree branches near to the house, also need to be watched and cleared of falling snow, as these too can be brought down by their weight.
• Consider a salt or sand store bin for the garden, ready to clear driveways and paths, when the freeze arrives.
• Locate your stop cock, so that if there is a burst pipe you know where it is positioned, in order to turn off the water supply.

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