When properties are left empty, with no one living there or visiting on a daily basis, small problems can develop into major issues before they are noticed, particularly when it comes to water damage.
If you are responsible for any empty business premises, you need to visit regularly or, if you live at a distance, deputise someone else who lives more locally. This is particularly important after winter storms, when damage can occur which you may be unaware of, until it develops into a critical situation.
Don’t forget to check the terms of your insurance policy too, as cover may depend on regular visits to the building being made.
Service your central heating
Winter is a particularly problematic time for empty properties, bringing maintenance issues to the fore. Issues can be caused by plunging temperatures, standing water and even falling leaves.
As an absolute minimum, you must make sure that the central heating is serviced every year. Defective heating can lead to leaks, which can in turn lead to damp problems. In a cold winter a boiler has to work really hard, so is more prone to going wrong. The older the boiler, the more likely it is to develop a fault. Make sure a Gas Safe registered engineer services it every year.
If you rely on an oil-fired central heating system, make sure you have enough oil in the tank to see you through the winter and any fuel shortages that may occur. For further protection, fix a frost thermostat so the heating will come on automatically when temperatures drop.
A burst pipe is every property owner’s nightmare, so insulating your pipes, particularly if they are located in the loft space, is really important. It may be worth draining the system down completely if the property is going to be unused for the whole winter.
Check the roof space regularly, especially after storms, to make sure there has not been any damage done which could allow water to get in. Even a small rodent infestation, such as one family of grey squirrels, can cause devastating water damage, as a result of a comparatively small hole being made in the roof or facias.
Regularly inspect the building and clear leaves, twigs, moss and other debris that may be blocking the drains and gutters. If neglected, you may get blockages in downpipes, which can lead to facia boards and roofs rotting. In a cold winter, if the water freezes, the guttering may be damaged, which can also lead to damp and leaks.
You should also check the pointing on external brickwork or concrete, to make sure water cannot collect, freeze and expand. This can cause cracking and allow water to get in. If the building is surrounded by greenery, make sure big trees that overhang your property are kept cut back so there is no risk of them causing damage if they or any branches fall on, or towards, your building.
Regular walk-throughs, checking for water ingress, running water and flushing any toilets will help reduce the likelihood of extensive damage.
Don’t forget, in the event of the unexpected happening, we have the expertise to minimise damage. We provide a 24-hour/ 7-day emergency call out service, which is available by calling 0151 708 9624.