Cold weather risks and precautions

05 December 2022

Cold weather often causes the same common issues for churches. Here's an overview of the types of risk and how to address them.

As winter approaches, it’s worthwhile taking some simple steps to protect your church from the worst of the British weather. Minimising winter risks might help you avoid an insurance claim.

Frozen pipes

Temperature iconBurst pipes can be caused by freezing temperatures as the water contracts and expands in the pipe. A small fracture in the pipe can release many gallons of water. Before the cold weather hits, it is best to ensure exposed water pipes are lagged to keep them insulated.

The heating in your church can also help to prevent a pipe from freezing. Boiler and heating systems should be serviced regularly to check that the frost thermostat is working correctly.

If you discover a frozen pipe - don’t wait for it to burst! Turn off your water supply and thaw the affected pipe slowly, by introducing gentle heat to the area e.g. use a hairdryer, space heater or hot water bottle. Never attempt this with an open flame.

If the church is unoccupied - ensure you have complied with any un-occupancy conditions or warranties listed in your church insurance policy. If you need any clarification, call us on 0345 606 1331.

Slips and trips in winter

Slips and trips are more likely in adverse weather conditions. You should therefore take reasonable actions to prevent bad weather from causing additional hazards.

Avoiding slips and trips in bad weather usually includes preventative measures, such as clearing and gritting paths, and regular maintenance, for example ensuring that entry and exit routes are kept free of excess water and leaves.

Winter church maintenance

Leaf iconLeaves can be a problem for gutters, drains, downpipes, valleys, hoppers and gullies. When excess leaves build up they can cause blockages which lead to damage to church buildings.

Signs of soil being washed away at ground level or splashes of soil at the base of walls can be an indication that water is not being caught by the gutter. Regular checks and maintenance will help water flow away quickly and efficiently.

If blockages are identified, please arrange for a contractor who is able to work safely at height to resolve the problem.

Temporary heating

Portable heaters should be sited clear of woodwork or other combustible materials. They should be clear of any walkways or routes where they could be knocked over.

Temporary heaters should not be:

  • left unattended for long periods of time
  • used when the building is unoccupied
  • moved once they have been switched on.

Please be aware this advice is provided to you as best practice guidance from Methodist Insurance. Please check your policy documents for details of any conditions specific to your policy.

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