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As winter months start, and weather starts going below 4°C vacant properties become at greater risk of damage by flooding. This is due to the expansion of water at temperatures below 4°C causing excessive pressure on the pipes and bursting often at the weaker points. As one might imagine, the damages caused by a burst pipe can be very costly to repair, and property owners should also consider damages caused to neighbouring properties specially in semi-detached and terraced houses and apartments. It is also advised to home owners to always check their insurance policy might have escape clause for properties empty over a certain period of time.

There are four possible ways to battle the cold:


a) Leave it drained down and unheated

One of the cheaper options, but with the highest risks. Turning off water must be accompanied by full drain-down, including all elements of the heating system and the boiler. A specialist job, as of course is re-activating it when that time comes. Also, have a good look at the small print in your household insurance policy, checking for escape clauses for unheated empty property. You might be surprised by what you find.


b) Heating on frost settings

May still work out cheaper than the professional drain down and recharge, the frost settings maintains a minimum temperature of approximately 4 degrees, which prevents freezing. It does not, however, prevent the large temperature ranges which cause condensation & mildew damage to soft furnishings including curtains, carpets, furniture and even interior woodwork, especially in older properties. It’s also very important to leave loft hatches open and allow the warm air to reach tanks & pipework in the roof spaces.


c) Background heating.

Leaving the heating running with the thermostat set to a continuous 12 degrees will combat both frost & condensation risks, so long as radiator valves and hatches are left fully open. Assuming the property is being marketed for sale or let, the viewers are also met with a warm welcome rather than a chilly shock.


d) Get it occupied quickly

The safest and most economical of all is to find an occupier who will meet these costs for you, and put some cash in your pocket for the privilege. Even dedicated vendors might consider a 6 month during the dark winter months to re-market afresh in the spring. Alternatively, calculate the cost of the heating, insurance & council tax bills for half the year, deduct that from the asking price and ensnare that proceed-able purchaser dreaming of being beside their own new fireplace in time for Christmas.

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Correct at time of publication. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the individual contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of the Chancellors Group of Estate Agents Ltd or its subsidiaries. References to legislation, best practice and other matters with legal implications such as fees, rules and processes are included for information and editorial purposes only and are not authoritative, nor should they be interpreted as advice. When in doubt you should only take advice from an industry professional or solicitor where appropriate. E&OE.