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Back You are here: Home Property Building and Renovating Protect Your Home in Winter

Protect Your Home in Winter

Holiday property is particularly vulnerable to storm or frost damage during a Bulgarian winter as they are frequently left empty during this time. Reduce the risk of damage and filing an insurance claim this winter with some simple winter maintenance tips and hints.

The most common insurance claims are listed below with advice on how you can avoid them this coming winter:

 

Burst Pipes / Water Damage

Damage through burst pipes can be really terrible, particularly if this happens when you are not at your Bulgarian property and the burst can go unnoticed for weeks.

- One of the main causes of frozen pipes which can then burst is switching all heating off completely when the house is left empty. Leave some heating on a low temperature will minimise the potential danger.
- Insulate and lag all pipes (particularly any which are exposed to the outside) and don't forget the water tank too.
- Turning off the water is not sufficient for property that is left empty for a long time. Water still remains in the system, so get a plumber to drain down all the water and the central heating system, if you have one, to remove any risk.
- Appliances (dishwashers, washing machines...) and taps, showers and baths should be regularly checked for leaks. It's surprising how just a few drops of water can cause rot and damp.
- If someone is looking after your property, then make sure they know where supplies of water, gas, electric can be turned off immediately in the case of an emergency as this will prevent a great deal of dama ge.


Storm Damage

High winds and severe storms can cause much damage to your property which can go unnoticed when you are not there.

Before you lock up and leave the property for the winter:
- Check roof tiles are secure so that water cannot get into the loft.
- Verify that any outbuildings are water tight.
- If you have a satellite dish, ensure it is securely fixed.
- Take a look at the garden - are the trees well pruned? Take off any dead or damaged branches and make sure trees are well clear of the buildings and cables.
- Windows, doors and gates need to be well fastened to avoid damage.


Burglars

Most burglaries are purely opportunism and an empty holiday home is an easy target. All possible entry points should be well secured as this will discourage most opportunists. Security measures to take include:


- Fit locks and bolts to all external doors and downstairs windows. You may wish to consider installing iron grilles on windows which are particularly accessible.
- It may sound obvious, but don't leave keys in obvious places!
- Change all the locks when you first take possession of your home.
- Lock up outbuildings with proper security locks. Remember to put ladders in a secure outbuilding, so that they can't be used to break into your home.
- If you have a trusted neighbour, ask them to look in on the property.

 

Fire

Electrical fires caused by faulty wiring are common and can reduce your home to ashes. You should get a qualified electrician to check that your wiring is safe. Remember to check that your chimney top is covered to avoid rainwater coming in through the chimney. Get the chimney swept every year to avoid a chimney fire. Finally, fit smoke alarms, so they can be heard all through the property.


Gutters and Drains

Clear both of leaves and dirt so that they won't overflow and cause flooding in the roof and other damp problems.


Liability

If you are renting out your property during the winter, a guest could have an accident on icy paths. They may decide to sue you. Keep paths clear of leaves and make sure there is good lighting - and take out public liability insurance.


Electricity

If you have a rural property it is possible that there may be power failures during the winter period, followed by a power surge. Before you leave, unplug all electrical appliances to avoid damage.


Check your insurance policy thoroughly. Some insurers exclude theft when the property is unattended after so many days. You may also be obliged to fit additional security measures. These kind of restrictions can make a policy worthless, just when you might need it most.