Winter came early last weekend with an unexpected sharp frost causing us to dig out our scarves and mittens before rooting around the garden shed for the windscreen de-icer we left there last spring. It didn’t last long, the lawns quickly returned to their verdant green and there was no fear of burst pipes but for a veteran estate agent having witnessed a good many frost related catastrophes, this premature cold snap came calling with a big red flag.

One of the worst calamities I had the daunting experience of encountering, occurred just after Christmas a few years ago in a semi-detached bungalow near the top end of Cheddon Road. My firm had been instructed with the sale and had been given the keys to conduct viewings whilst the owners were celebrating the festive season on a Caribbean cruise ship.

I arrived a few minutes early to open the doors and pull back the curtains but as I approached the front door I was greeted by the sight of a steady stream of water seeping through the threshold! Fearful of what would happen if I attempted to open the front door, I peered through the letterbox to survey the scene.

Shock, horror! While the owners were merrily floating around the Caribbean, so all their worldly goods, furniture and ceilings, were floating in similar merriment around the entire floor area of their now ‘ex’ showhome! My ensuing telephone call to the vendors was not an easy one to make.

The most recent victim of Jack Frosts vengeance is another bungalow, this one situated in one of those smart little cul-de-sacs off College Way. Earlier this year similar water damage was inflicted, with collapsed ceilings and expensive refurbishment required. The need to recount the costly mishap here was that even though frost precautions had been taken with the central heating left on, the loft hatch hadn’t been lifted, so the generously insulated loft area remained exposed and during the next cold snap the pipes froze, only to burst with the thaw.

So, property owners, take heed – there’s more winter weather on its way right now! Check your lagging is adequate and if you’re going away, keep the temperature of the whole place – including the loft - above freezing. Better still, if the property is to be unoccupied, have the entire plumbing and heating system drained down. Forewarned is forearmed!

Chris Willey is an Independent Property Appraiser and welcomes all enquiries on  Taunton 01823 412661