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How do I manage the Beast from the East Part Two?

Question

I don’t feel like this is a question I should be asking in March, but with the Beast from the East Part Two due to take hold again, is there any special precautions I should be taking to ensure my property is protected against the (wintery) spring weather?

Answer

One of the most important things to remember in the cold weather is to protect your property’s pipework. I’m sure we all remember the terrible news stories from over the past few weeks where villages have been left with no water thanks to mains water pipes freezing and bursting – whilst you can’t prevent this you can make sure your property is well protected, so your tenants do not have to face a chilly break with not heating or water, and you are not left out in the cold facing a hefty plumbing bill.

Simple Landlords Insurance revealed recently that they received a 300% rise in calls during ‘snow week’ last month compared to the corresponding week in 2017, with many of those calls for damage relating to freezing pipes and associated storm damage.

Insulating and lagging your pipes, (especially any that venture outside) is a vital step to helping make sure that your property is not another addition to this frightening statistic. Don’t forget to investigate the loft area and the garage, as often there is pipework in these areas that is left unattended.

Unfortunately, you cannot handle the situation alone. You have to rely on your tenants to play a role in ensuring that your property, their home, is as well protected through the cold snap as possible.

Make sure that they are not turning off the boiler during this time (highly unlikely, but just in case!) as keeping pipes warm and moving is a huge help to preventing them icing up.

However, advice suggested that if your tenant suggests that despite your best efforts, one of the pipes has frozen, advise them to turn the boiler off immediately - having it turned on could cause severe damage to the system – and the water off at the stopcock. It is always a good idea to notify your tenant as to the location of the stopcock and switch board at the start of the tenancy, but it might be worth reminding them, and when they might need to use them, given the recent poor weather!

Do also remember that if a pipe freezes and bursts, it is wise to turn the electricity supply off at the mains if there is any danger that water could have leaked into or near any electrical devices. If the main supply switch is wet, make sure your tenant does not to touch it under any circumstances and call an emergency electrician immediately.

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