Home Insurance

Getting your home ready for winter - don’t ignore the niggling feeling

Homeowners are being urged to ensure their properties are ready for winter or face paying thousands of pounds in repairs.

About £17 billion has been spent nationally on unexpected home repairs after warning signs were ignored, the Gas Safe Register estimates.

It found almost half of the homeowners it questioned had ignored niggles and ended up paying more in the long run - spending on average £1,876 on repairs later down the line.

And a bill of £5,000 or more was waiting for 5% of those asked.

Leaky taps, draughty windows or doors, clogged guttering, cracks in walls and damp or mould are the nation’s top five most annoying niggles, costing on average between £900 and £1,900 to fix if not acted on early, the register said.

The most expensive problems to fix if ignored, according to the Gas Safe Register, are:

  • Rotting wooden decking: £3,344
  • Lazy yellow flames on gas appliances: £3,250
  • Black sooty marks or stains on/around gas appliances: £3,239
  • Leaking pipes: £2,520
  • Boilers making rattling and banging sounds: £2,333.

Fires can be caused if gas appliances are not checked annually.

Lazy yellow flames (rather than blue) on a gas cooker, black soot marks and excess condensation on windows suggest an unsafe gas appliance.

Meanwhile nausea and fainting can be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Unfortunately, boiler repairs and servicing is not included in home insurance deals.

The average cost of a boiler service in the UK is about £73, NimbleFins research shows.

This compares to a callout fee of about £200 for a broken boiler, plus the potential cost of a new one if it cannot be repaired because the problem has been left so long. Plus, an efficient boiler means more energy efficiency, saving money on bills.

The Gas Safe Register, the official registration body for gas engineers, has teamed up with Homes Under the Hammer presenter Martin Roberts to come up with a tick list to get homes winter-ready and save money in the long term for its Winter House Whisperers campaign.

Martin Roberts and Gas Safe Register’s top tips to keep your property running safely in winter:

  1. Prioritise: Learn which niggles need seeing too first. Look at which would cost more if left untouched, or which put safety at risk, and tackle those before the cosmetic jobs.
  2. Don't ignore: Spend money on things that can improve your health, wealth and safety in the long term.
  3. Use trusted tradespeople: Don't attempt gas or electrical works yourself - use registered and qualified engineers for all works. Check the Gas Safe Register here.
  4. Check gas appliances for warning signs they are not working: These include lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue, black marks or stains on or around gas appliances and excess condensation in the room.
  5. Regular servicing: All gas appliances should be serviced and safety checked every year, by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Bob Kerr, gas services director at Gas Safe Register, said: "As the temperatures continue to plunge, gas boilers in our homes are under more pressure. And, although it may seem like a ‘niggle’ at the time, it’s always better to be Gas Safe Than Sorry. Getting it done will ensure your appliances are safe to use this winter whilst - despite the initial outlay - also potentially having financial benefits.”

Martin Roberts said: "After 20 years in property, I’ve heard every shoulda, woulda, coulda going when it comes to regrets about dealing with niggles too late.

"The costs can be high financially if repairs or replacements are needed, but you can’t put a price on the health and safety of your family.

"If you have damp or mould in your home, you’re more likely to have respiratory problems, allergies or asthma. Whilst having unsafe gas appliances can not only put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, they can leak gas and in some instances lead to fires and explosions. Learn to listen to your home.”

The Gas Safe Register questioned 2,000 people across the UK in December 2021 in its survey.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.