Preparing your home for the harshest winter months could save you thousands in repair bills and home insurance costs in the long run.
That’s not to mention the inconvenience of a boiler breaking down during a freezing snap, or water pouring through old, damaged roof tiles in a storm.
Here are the key things you should do every autumn:
Inside the house
Boiler – Boilers should ideally be serviced annually, ideally in the autumn, just before winter kicks in. Annual servicing should keep your boiler running smoothly, and it helps them last longer and breakdown less. As a boiler can cost thousands to replace, it’s worth it.
Radiators – Air can seep into radiators when they’re switched off over the summer. As it prevents them from working properly you should check and bleed radiators once the central heating’s turned on again.
Pipes and water tanks – Make sure all pipes and water tanks are lagged in parts of the house that get cold during the winter, such as attics, utility rooms and garages. It’ll avoid them potentially freezing and bursting.
Door and window seals – Have a look to see if any windows need new putty around the frames and check if seals around doors need caulking or new foam inlay strips. This will help prevent damp getting into wood and walls where they meet the frames.
Window frames – Wooden window frames, in particular, need to be watched for flaking paint and cracking. Water can get in, freeze and damage the wood and, before you know it, you have leaks and need to replace them. Repaint if necessary, or at least use wood sealant.
Lofts – Check for signs of damp and water ingress around and under the roof beams and areas where the roof meets the walls. Look for any daylight coming through.
Check alarms – It’s easy to simply assume house alarms, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly. Make sure you test them every year, and ensure that all connections are good and batteries charged.
Outside the house
Clean those gutters – It’s not a pleasant job, but cleaning out gutters could save you thousands by helping avoid drainage and potential damp issues. Or, if you don’t like climbing up ladders, it shouldn’t cost much to pay a tradesman to do it for you.
Overhanging branches – Look out for overhanging tree branches that could come down in a storm and damage the home. Get them cut off if necessary.
Drains – Check for weeds and other plants growing near drains as the roots can clog them up and cause costly-to-fix damage.
Roof tiles, chimneys and flashing – Try and have a good look at the roof, looking out for loose, cracked tiles as wells as cracks in parapets and around chimneys, crumbling pointing in the chimney stack, wobbly pots and flashing which looks uneven and loose.
Flat roofs – Flat roofs on houses and extensions need checking as they’re fairly prone to water leaks and damage. Check in particular where they meet the walls.
Pipes, hoses and outside taps – Make sure garden hoses have been disconnected to avoid freezing and taps closed tight. If possible, insulate exposed pipes.
External walls and bay windows – Look out for loose render and pointing and cracks in external walls. Cracks form particularly easily around bay windows where there are load-bearing struts and joins.
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Published 12th September 2018