Winter is coming, and it’s an atmospheric time of year. It’s also time to start thinking about thatch fire safety, general property maintenance and festive insurance. Perhaps not the most fun of seasonal topics, but we know your home matters to you.
Safeguarding your wood-burner
There are many factors – such as old wiring, faulty smoke alarms, and whether a property has a professionally lined and insulated chimney / flue – that have an impact on overall fire safety.
One of the best cures for shivering is fire. Rather than pitching some sticks in the middle of the living room, we humans have cleverly engineered the wood-burner. It can be tempting with the first hint of winter to pack your burner with any old wood, fling open the grates, and whip up a raging inferno.
To avoid a chimney fire:
- Make sure your chimney flue is swept – tarry deposits burn beautifully
- Burn only seasoned wood, with 20% moisture (you can buy moisture meters) – green wood has sap that collects in the flue – nice flammable sap
- Get rid of a spark arrestor if you have one, and consider a bird guard instead – arrestors clog easily and cause a build-up of flue gases
- When the big day arrives, don’t burn wrapping paper! It burns very hot, very fast and floaty bits can ignite a chimney fire (and no one likes toxic fumes…)
- Remember, if your home has a chimney fire the thatch is waiting to go up. Whether by heat transfer or a stray spark, the risk is real
General property maintenance
Old properties need a little more TLC than newer builds. Here are a few things to look out for in winter:
- Cracks widening with ice
- Storm-damaged trees – falling risk
- Water pooling at wall junctions/ metal flashings – ice causes cracking
- Condensation unattended on walls and windows can rot wooden window frames
- Mould and damp in cupboards – use a moisture trap
- Leaky pipes after cold spells
- Don’t let the heat out! Sometimes, you must – ventilating your home to balance humidity prevents damp
- If you don’t have a wood-burner, test your heating out before the cold properly sets in
- It may be worth having your gas or oil central heating boiler serviced
This isn’t the ‘technical’ term for it. What we’re referring to is contents insurance.
Christmas isn’t about material possessions; it’s about quality time with friends and family. So, if you happen to receive any expensive gifts this Christmas, it would be wise to check out your sums insured. This extends to the belongings of any guests staying in your home over the festive period.
What to do if you’re going away for Christmas
There are few combinations as alluring to thieves as dark evenings and vacant houses brimming with Christmas tidings. To keep your home off the criminal map this Christmas:
- Don’t announce your trip on social media – you can never be sure…
- Ask neighbours to move the bins back, if you left them out
- Also, you could potentially ask neighbours to park on your drive
- Set some lights on a timer to turn on and off at night
- Check, and then double check you’ve locked everything up – including outbuildings
- A pile of letters on the mat is a neon sign saying ‘we’re away!’ – use the Royal Mail’s ‘Keepsafe’ service, which stores your mail for up to 66 days
Now, enjoy yourself!
This blog leaves you with a fair amount to think about. All that’s left for you to do is enjoy the season, and remember to regretfully overindulge come Christmas.