Is your home ready for winter?
The shortest day of the year might be behind us, but there’s still a lot of winter ahead. So now is the time to make sure your home is in the best possible shape to prevent the kind of potentially costly repairs (the kind of problems you may not be insured for) that you could avoid with some easy winter home maintenance.
Here are 9 recommended essentials:
The outside of your home can take a real battering, so make sure it is as well protected as possible to cope with whatever winter might throw at it:
1. Check gutters and downpipes
Blocked gutters can cause damaging water spillage to walls and windows. To avoid leaks and ensure good drainage, make sure your gutters and drains are clear. The best time to do this is after a few dry days so that leaves and debris are lighter to remove, but any time will do.
While you’re outside take a look at the pointing and organise any necessary repairs, as frost will make any damage much worse.
2. Inspect the roof
Cracked or broken roof tiles can lead to all sorts of problems, but a check – either from the ground or whilst safely up a ladder doing the gutters - could pre-empt trouble ahead. For any necessary repairs, call in a qualified contractor.
3. Protect external pipes and drains
To prevent exterior pipes freezing (especially those connected to the central heating system), protect them with waterproof tape or other insulating material.
4. Cut low branches
Damage can be caused by low branches breaking and falling in high winds, so cut back to protect fences, windows and anything else at risk.
Staying in the garden, check that outdoor furniture is secure and protected too; and that decking and paving is regularly swept to avoid any slippery build up.
The outside of the house takes the biggest hit from the elements, but there’s plenty you can do inside to prevent winter problems too:
5. Check the chimney
We all love a fire, but to avoid the kind nobody wants (ie, an unintentional chimney fire), get your chimney swept by a professional before you use it. Consider installing a chimney balloon to seal an open flue (you can inflate or deflate any time you want a fire); or, for a disused chimney, installing a cap will stop anything (eg. rain, birds, leaves) getting in to the chimney stack in the future.
6. Service the heating
There’s never a good time for the boiler to break down but it’s definitely worth trying to prevent any problems during winter. Make sure that your boiler and all other gas appliances are checked and serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. While you’re thinking about the heating, bleed your radiators. And check loft and tank insulation too.
7. Prevent burst pipes
If you’re going away, leave the heating on at low temperature to reduce the risk of burst pipes.
8. Draught proof windows and doors
Check and replace (or repair) ineffective double-glazing units or, if you don’t have double-glazing and need a cheaper and more temporary draught fix, attach (or replace) weather stripping around doors and windows, renew worn caulking, and think about fitting a letterbox cover.
9. Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
Make sure these are in good working order and replace the batteries (ensuring you also replace your store of spare batteries).
This list of winter maintenance tips to protect your home will hopefully help to keep the warmth in and the winter out.
Why not have a read of our House Insurance Guides?