There are certain steps which you can take to protect your home from bad weather. The best thing you can do to prevent any damage occurring to your home is to make sure that your home is warm and well insulated. Make sure you have enough contents insurance to protect your property in the event of flood damage.
Weatherproofing the property
The main risk to any property in periods of cold weather is water damage due to burst pipes. You can minimise the chances of damage occurring by taking a few key steps.
- Leave the heating on for certain periods during the day,
- Open any trap doors to ensure warm air can circulate around pipes in the roofspace,
- Keep doors in the property ajar to allow warm air to circulate,
- Keep the cupboard under the sink open,
- Find out where your stopcock is and how to turn it off.
Reduce the risk of pipes freezing by ensuring that you have enough gas or oil to heat the property. Your local council or credit union may run a savings scheme which aims to help you with the cost of heating your home.
If you know you are going to be away from your home during a period of bad weather, think about giving a spare key to a friend, family member or neighbour who can keep an eye on the property if the weather takes a change for the worse.
Be prepared and be insured
Make sure that all your furniture and belongings are covered by your contents insurance policy. If you don’t have contents insurance you will not receive any compensation if the property floods and your items are damaged.
Supporting Communities NI has negotiated with Royal Sun Alliance Insurance PLC to set up an affordable contents insurance scheme for housing association tenants in Northern Ireland.
NI Water has produced a useful video which shows you how to find your stopcock.
Dealing with frozen or burst pipes
If your pipes do freeze, you will need to act quickly to reduce the risk of them bursting. You should
- turn the water supply off at the stopcock
- try to thaw the pipes, by placing warm towels or a hot water bottle on them or using a hairdryer on its lowest setting. Pipes must be thawed slowly, never use a blowtorch or exposed flame.
If the worst happens and the pipes burst, you should
- turn the water supply off at the stopcock,
- try to stop any escaping water with blankets, buckets or towels,
- turn off your central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating systems,
- drain the system by turning on all your taps and flushing the toilet several times,
- check if there is a risk of electrocution and switch of the mains electricity supply if there is,
- contact your housing association's emergency repairs service and
- inform any neighbours who may be affected.
Emergency contact details
If something happens to cause damage in your home, you should call the Emergency Repairs number for your housing association immediately . Keep a record of when you called and who you spoke with.
Be ready to tell your housing association
- what has happened,
- what damage has been caused,
- what, if anything, you have done to try to repair the situation,
- whether the damage has affected neighbouring properties,
- whether the property is habitable.
Your tenants' handbook should state how quickly your housing association will deal with the repair. In busy periods, it may take longer than usual for a repair to be completed.
If your water or electricity supply has been affected, you should contact NI Water on 0845 744 0088 and PowerNI on 08457 643 643.
Burst pipes can cause significant damage to a property. If your home has been rendered uninhabitable because of flooding or water damage, you should contact your Housing Association to see if there is alternative accommodation available that you can move into on a temporary basis. You may wish to consider presenting as homeless if you can no longer safely live in the property.
If you are going to continue living in a water damaged property, be aware that you will have to allow the housing association and any maintenance people access to the property to carry out repair work. If this is going to cause you disruption, try to negotiate an acceptable work schedule with the housing association.