Be prepared for ice and snow

Ice and snow can cause a lot of issues both inside and outside your home.

We have compiled a list of practical steps that you can take to protect & prepare your home for winter weather

Cold weather can cause countless issues both inside & outside the home so it's important to make sure your home is protected. From heating your home to ensuring your family's safety, we can help with our cold weather guide.

Insulate your pipes

Pipes, particularly outdoor pipes, can freeze or even burst in times of cold weather after a period of disuse.

Before the cold weather hits, check any water pipes that run close to outside walls as well as pipes in unheated crawl spaces or garages where they will get cold. These pipes are most at risk of freezing. On the pipes inside your home, put some fiberglass insulation between the pipes and the walls to help keep them warm and prevent freezing.

Pipes running through unheated spaces and outdoor areas should be covered with insulation. Preformed pipe sleeve insulation shaped to go right around a copper water pipe is an inexpensive option.

Add extra protection to external piping by insulating your outdoor tap at the same time as your pipes. Quick & easy to install & remove, it prevents freezing & weather damage.

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Top tip

Insulating your hot water tanks will help keep your water hot for that nice long bath after a day battling the elements. It will also protect your tank in extreme weather.

  • Invest in radiator foil

    Radiator foil is particularly useful for those without cavity wall insulation.

    A significant amount of heat from a radiator is lost to the wall behind it.

    Suitable for all radiators, specialist radiator foil placed down the back of a radiator will reflect heat back into a room rather than letting it escape through the walls of a house, or becoming absorbed into the wall.

    This form of insulation is especially important on outside walls where any heat loss will simply escape outside.

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  • Draught proof your home

    If you're spending more on heating your home, you want to be sure that none of the heat is escaping through cracks & gaps. Insulating your home will not only keep you and your home warm and healthy but will also help to keep your costs down.

    • Fit draught proofing to seal any gaps around windows and doors.
    • Make sure that your loft has at least 10-11 inches (270 mm) of insulation. Any home with 4 inches (100 mm) or less should have it topped up.
    • If you have wall cavities, make sure that they are insulated too.
    • Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat generated inside your rooms.
    • Make sure that your radiators are not obstructed by curtains or furniture.
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  • Home heating

    If you need heat fast but want to save energy, portable heaters are the smart option. They warm up quickly, and save both cash and energy as you can heat specific rooms rather than the whole house.

    If you're not sure what heater is right for your space, we can help with our portable heating buying guide.

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  • Home heating safety

    During the winter, gas boilers, fires, wood burners and other types of fuel-burning appliances are working constantly. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide (CO) can build up as a result of the burning of any type of fossil fuel for an extended length of time.

    As temperatures drop and the heating is turned up it is important to check that appliances are working properly and that flues and chimneys are not blocked. Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be emitted from inadequately maintained or badly fitted domestic heating appliances.

    It's a good idea to fit a carbon monoxide alarm in any room that contains a fuel burning appliance. The sensing technology in a CO detector is different from that used in a smoke alarm; Carbon Monoxide detectors measure the amount of CO and the time of exposure. The alarm will sound before carbon monoxide levels become threatening for average, healthy adults.

    Top tip

    Never use charcoal, or a propane heater in an enclosed area without proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide can build up. Silent and odorless, it is deadly.

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During a cold snap it's important to shield plants, garden furniture and bikes from frost and water damage as repeat exposure to freeze and thaw can split wood, rust metal and damage plants. At B&Q we have all the outdoor protection you need.

  • Protect garden furniture & tools

    Garden equipment and furniture can be seriously damaged by extreme weather. To keep your furniture looking its very best for longer, store it in dry conditions and ensure that all pieces are fully dry before putting away.

    If you've already invested in a shed but are concerned about weatherproofing, it's worth felting the roof of your shed if you want your garden equipment, tools and other appliances to stay in good condition.

    We can help you get started with our video guide to felting a shed roof

    If your garden furniture is too big to be brought inside or kept inside your shed, tarpaulin can go some way to protecting it from the elements.

    Make sure you buy a piece large enough to cover your furniture, and secure it tightly or weigh it down with something heavy.

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Protect plants

Cold weather, particularly frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze, damaging the cell wall. Periods of particularly cold, frosty weather can also kill blossom and damage fruit. Hardy plants and tough evergreens can also be damaged by prolonged spells of severe cold when soil becomes frozen. Roots are unable to take up water and plants die from lack of moisture.

Frost problems are often made worse where plants face the morning sun, as this causes them to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls. To keep plants happy Insulate any outdoor pots staying out with winter jackets - a cloche is ideal for the job, otherwise garden fleece or bubble wrap works well.

If you need to protect your plants from a small number of especially cold nights, a simple shelter such as an old blanket or tarpaulin may be enough. Take it off during the day so that the plants can get light and air. You may need to weigh or tie down the cloth so that it doesn't blow away. Bring any delicate plants inside, and once inside reduce watering to match plant requirements.

As long as the soil remains moist then your plant should be just fine. Add simple bark mulch to your flower beds to act as a blanket and wrap up any young tree trunks, again fleece or bubble wrap will do the job. Evergreen plants will particularly benefit from bark or mulch.

Remember, insulation works both ways. It can prevent the soil from cooling off too quickly, but it can also prevent it from warming up promptly when the time comes. You will need to rake it back away from the plants as spring starts to warm up.

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If you live in an area that's prone to snow, and you're planting a lot of seeds, it may be worth investing in a cold frame or grow house. The protective area will extend the growing season, as well as help maintain temperatures and keep vermin at bay

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Be prepared...

For the garden, winter is a time of preparation. Complete the following tasks to ensure a bountiful spring.

  1. Rough dig clay-based soil and break it down into small clumps.
  2. Prune deciduous shrubs and remove dead or diseased branches.
  3. Invest in a greenhouse - a great storage provider it'll make propagating plants from seeds much easier.
  4. Protect vulnerable plants from frost and wind with a horticultural fleece.
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Even a light dusting of snow can make the road difficult to navigate. Many motorists are unprepared and get caught short away from home, in freezing conditions. We've compiled a list of winter preparations you can take to make sure your vehicle can withstand extreme snow & ice.

Prepare for the unexpected

Many motorists prepare for the worst by having a kit of essential items should their motor break down in the middle of nowhere. If you need to leave the house during icy conditions, it's worth packing an emergency kit in case you run into trouble.

Think about including:

  • Pump up & check up your tyres

    Snow and ice can make the roads a treacherous place for motorists. Pumping up your tyres to the correct inflation level helps to lower the risks of skidding in icy conditions, and can also help to improve your motor's fuel efficiency.

    Worn tyres won't give you the traction you need on wet, icy roads. If your tyres are worn, replace them with a good set of all-weather tyres. Check the tread and pressure - the legal standard is 1.6mm. Better tread will result in better grip which will be beneficial in treacherous conditions.

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  • Lighting

    Make sure that all of your lights are working as the dark mornings and dreary evenings come into play.

    It's vital that you replace any broken bulbs, and ensure that all your lights are clean - dirt can prevent them from giving a full glow to help you in the darker conditions.

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  • Battery

    Make sure that your car battery is charged and doesn't need changing.

    Colder weather conditions put a greater strain on your car's battery, so ensure you don't get left stranded at the side of the road by getting yours checked at a reputable garage - especially before setting out on a long journey.

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  • Anti-freeze

    Make sure that your radiator doesn't stall by filling it with some antifreeze.

    It can also be added to your windscreen washer fluid to help the ice melt away faster.

    Top tip

    Keep de-icer in the house, rather than inside your car. This will make sure that if your car locks freeze you will have a way to de-ice them.

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  • Car cover

    If you don't have a garage it may be worth investing in a car cover in order to help protect your car from the icy conditions which naturally come with the winter weather.

    If you've not got a car cover, tarpaulin can work just as well if secured properly.

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Always fill up with a full tank of fuel before heading on a long journey. Being stuck on the side of the motorway in zero degree conditions isn't ideal.

Brake pads and discs

Make sure that your brakes are ready for the winter by getting them checked out by your mechanic.

Icy and wet roads can lead to braking distances being reduced; therefore a healthy set of brake pads is vital for the winter months. If you're not sure about something take it to a garage and have a qualified mechanic look at it.

Don't forget...

Cold weather can also ruin interiors of cars. Dropping temperatures can dry out leather and similar finishes, so It's important to apply a conditioner before the weather gets too cold, to ensure you keep the inside of your car looking good.

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