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Looking after your home this winter

Looking after your home this winter

With winter now upon us and, with temperatures likely to drop over the next few months, now is the time to give your home the care and attention it needs to help protect it from the damage that the coldest months can cause.

Save in the long run

By carrying out a few simple home maintenance tasks each year before the worst of the winter weather kicks in, you could potentially save yourself thousands of pounds.

It can help prevent the sudden need for costly repairs due to frozen pipes bursting or boilers breaking down. And, in the longer term, it will save you from needing even more expensive work to correct issues such as damp and structural damage to walls and roofs.

Read on for our top tips for helping you prepare your home.

Service your boiler and bleed the radiators

Boilers often run at maximum capacity during winter, putting them under higher levels of stress than at other times of the year – which makes your boiler more vulnerable to breaking down when you need it most!

Heating engineers recommend an annual service, which should ensure your boiler gets through the coldest months without a hitch and will help prolong its lifespan. A full service usually costs around £65. Always use a qualified, Gas Safe registered engineer when it comes to carrying out any checks on your boiler.

Bleeding your radiators is a relatively quick and easy job, allowing excess air that’s built up over the summer months to be released, helping your radiators to work more effectively. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, it’s something a plumber can do.

Guttering and pipes

Over the autumn months, excess rain and leaves falling from trees can result in gutters becoming clogged with debris.

That’s why it’s important to clear your gutters and drains properly before winter hits, as any blockages could result in rainfall overflowing into render and brickwork, getting into loft areas or splitting the pipework when water freezes.

Water-carrying pipes in colder areas such as lofts and garages should have a good level of insulation cover, known as ‘lagging’, as it helps prevent them from freezing in cold spells.

Lagging can be purchased from most DIY retailers and is easily cut to size and placed around piping.

Locate the stopcock 

Your home’s stopcock is what controls your home’s water supply. In the event of a leak or burst pipe, you’ll want to know exactly where this is located so you can quickly access it and turn it off, helping to keep water damage to a minimum.

The stopcock is usually under or near the sink – in older houses it is often close to the front door.

Secure fencing, sheds and gates

Increased wind speeds during winter storms could result in loose fence panels or gates being blown off their hinges, resulting in damage to your property, your car or the surrounding areas.

Reduce the chances of this happening by checking for any weakened or broken fence panels and gates, and fix any problem areas using new posts, fence panels and hinges where necessary.

Sheds should be firmly fixed in place, with the roof and door securely fitted. Use wood glue and putty where the wood has split or rotted, especially around window frames.

Check for external cracks 

Rainwater that gets into cracks in external walls, driveways and patios and then freezes can, over time, lead to damp and structural damage, which can become very costly to put right.

It is normal to find small, fine cracks in external stonework and render, but larger ones need to be repaired by filling them with the correct type of mortar or concrete. If you have any concerns about potential structural damage you should contact a reputable, qualified tradesperson to assess them before agreeing to have any work completed.

Inspect your roof

Your roof is one of the most vulnerable parts of your home and becomes an easy target for cold and windy weather during winter.

If you notice loose or missing tiles on your roof, or cracks around parapets and chimneys, we recommend contacting a registered roofing contractor to inspect any potential damage. The longer roof damage goes unnoticed, the worse the damage is likely to become, so it’s best to act now and avoid unexpected costs in the future. You’ll also save money on your heating bills if you stop the cold coming in from holes in your roof.

Overhanging trees and branches

Your garden may have been in full bloom in the summer, but in the winter it’s worth looking around your property to assess if any trees have become overgrown and may now need cutting back.

During heavy storms, this could help prevent a tree and its branches from blowing around, breaking, and causing damage to your home.

Put away garden furniture 

Safely store away garden furniture and other items that could get blown around by high winds, such as trampolines, barbecues and tables.

Enjoy peace of mind

We have been facing increasingly uncertain weather conditions over the past few years. Carrying out the above checks will hopefully help to give you the peace of mind needed to enjoy winter with your loved ones, knowing that your home is safe, secure and protected from the outdoor elements!