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Winterisation is the process of preparing something for the harsh winter weathers. Each year, many holiday let owners are caught out during the festive season due to the lack of preparation. There are a variety of things you can do to make your holiday cottage ‘winter ready’ and by taking these necessary steps, you will reduce the likelihood of unfortunate events occurring.
Keeping your holiday let warm during winter will considerably reduce the risk of burst pipes and damp occurring. Heat can escape you property in numerous ways, but there are two main areas you ought to consider if you want to defeat the cold snap. They are:
Insulation – your holiday let’s ‘woolly jumper’
According to the Energy Saving Trust, around a quarter of heat loss in an uninsulated home occurs through the roof. Even if your loft is insulated, the standards of insulation have increased significantly in recent years – new builds are now required to have 270mm of insulation, whereas many older properties will have 120mm or less. If your property wasn’t built recently, then it may be worth having your holiday let inspected to determine where it is losing heat.
If you add insulation to your attic, you ought to consider adding insulation or sleeves to water pipes or tanks if there are any, as, with the increased insulation, these will become more exposed to the elements and have an increased risk of freezing.
Drafts – stop them in a breeze
‘Draft proofing’ your property is regarded as one of the cheapest and easiest ways to save money on energy bills. Pay extra attention to windows and doors, either adding draft excluders or sealing gaps with caulk.
A burst pipe is amongst many homeowners’ worst fears as the amount of damage caused can be huge. A burst pipe is possibly more disastrous in your holiday let as your guests may be unaware of how to turn off your water supply or, if the property is empty, the burst may go unnoticed and a huge amount of damage could be caused.
If you’re unfortunate enough to experience a burst pipe in your holiday let, it may become inhabitable whilst the repair work is being undertaken. If this is the case, any bookings you have in the near future will need to be cancelled or alternative accommodation found. In this scenario, you may want to check what your holiday let insurance covers you for.
As many leaves begin to tumble to the ground, Autumn brings an impressive array of colours. If you have trees near your property, you ought to clear the gutters and drains from any debris that may have built up over time. If you don’t, blockages may occur and they may become damaged in freezing conditions.
With the festive season comes a lot of water. Whether it’s snow thawing or, the more British equivalent, heavy rainfall, you’ll want to ensure your drains are working effectively and there are no blockages. To do this you could check the flow of water is consistent during a rainy day, using the inspection points, or you could hire a specialist or maintenance company to do this for you.
This is more relevant for those who have traditional wooden windows. Rotting windows is often the result of damp, caused by condensation. Here are the following things you’ll want to check:
Flaking paint will likely expose the wood beneath to damp. If you spot flaking paint you ought to give your windows a fresh coat of gloss. Be sure to slightly overlap the paint onto the glass, ensuring there is no gap at the edge. If you’re unsure on how to paint your windows, check out this useful guide by www.diy.com.
Use good quality caulk or outdoor sealant to fill any cracks that may have appeared. If left, these cracks will allow water to seep into your woodwork. It’s important to check which direction water drains on your windowsill. Water should run away from your window and shouldn’t pool.
It may be worth buying a small dehumidifier and placing this on your window ledge during the winter period to prevent the build up of condensation and damp.
Winter can often bring an unforgiving array of weather conditions, including storms, strong winds and freezing temperatures. The following are the few areas you ought to pay extra attention to:
Carry out a full inspection of your property’s exterior and fix any loose tiles and anything which you believe could be prone to falling in strong winds.
Every year, strong winds cause branches or even entire trees to fall to the ground. Not only can these cause damage to your holiday let, but they could inflict serious injuries to your guests. If there are any trees near to your property you ought to have a risk assessment conducted by a qualified tree surgeon and undertake any recommended work.
Clear paths and stock up salt
Throughout winter you should ensure all pathways are clear of debris and leafs as these could prove extremely hazardous in frosts and freezing conditions. Make sure your guests have access to a supply of salt, and a shovel and brush in case of snowfall or sub-zero temperatures.
Having a log burner or open fire in your holiday let is an extremely desirable feature, especially during the colder months, and can increase occupancy and profits. A recent study by the Home Office highlighted that chimney fires are more common in winter. With winter being a period where log burners or fires will be more regularly used, autumn is an ideal time for you to get your holiday let’s chimney swept.
With increasingly shorter days, your holiday let has a greater risk to burglaries during winter. Your property may even be at a greater risk if there is a long period of unoccupancy or is in a rural area. There are many things you can do to protect your holiday let, including:
These can be motion activated to reduce the impact on the surrounding area.
Installing a burglar alarm detracts many ‘opportunist thieves’.
If you have a trusted neighbour near your holiday let, it may be worth letting them know when to expect guests or when the property will be empty so they are aware of any suspicious activity.
Ensure all your locks are efficient and secure. You can also invest in internal security lights that are either on a timer or replicate the glow of a television.
Once winter arrives, there are still a few things you can do to reduce any risks your holiday let may encounter, including:
Check the property regularly
If you live locally to your holiday let, then it would be worth popping in at least once a week during periods of unoccupancy to ensure nothing has gone wrong. A burst pipe, for example, could cause a huge amount of damage if gone unnoticed. If you do not live locally, see if you can arrange for a trusted friend or family member to visit the property.
Heating an empty property
Setting your heating to come on at least once a day, even if empty, will stop your property from reaching extremely cold temperatures. Some holiday let owners choose to keep their heating on constantly, but leave their thermostat set to a lower temperature. This will significantly reduce the risk of pipes freezing and damp forming in your holiday let.
*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.
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