Protecting your French home during the winter months

Published:  14 Jan at 6 PM
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Although France’s hot and sunny summers are a major attraction for British expats escaping the UK’s dull, wet days, not all new arrivals realise the French winter can be very cold.

From France's northern region to the sunny south is quite a distance, causing significant differences in temperature, especially from the last week of January to early March. As a result, French homes need preparation before the chill sets in, especially if expat owners are leaving them empty for a while. Just as in the UK, frozen or burst pipes are common during the cold season, with property owners urged to especially check the insulation on outdoor pipes as well as those buried or in the garage, loft or basement.

For those likely to be away from the property for more than three days, draining the central heating system is a must, and electric radiator thermostats should be set in the ‘frost’ position allowing them to automatically switch on during freezing conditions. This gives ambient heat and guards against damage from frozen pipes. Other protective measures as regards water damage include shutting the mains water stopcock after emptying the system as well as draining toilet water.

For longer-term absences, electrical appliances need to be turned off and fridge and freezer doors should be left open to prevent mould. The exterior and roof of the property should also be inspected annually, especially in areas where heavy snowfall is the winter norm, and checking for guttering blocked by leaves is recommended. Whether your expat dream home in France is your permanent residence or is shuttered and locked during the winter season, taking sensible measures to protect against the effects of extreme cold is important.
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