Preparing your home in advance of the winter months can prevent costly bills arising from problems that can be easily prevented but are aggravated by the colder weather.
Here, our building surveyors have put together a list of simple maintenance tasks to complete for guttering, heating, ventilation and security to ensure your property is ready to face winter head on.
In a snapshot
- Service your boiler
- Insulate your pipes
- If you are away, keep the heating circulating
- Insulate doors and windows
- Clear the gutters
- Service smoke and fire alarms
It is advisable to service your boiler annually to ensure it is working safely and efficiently. Cranking up the heating in the winter months will put extra strain on your boiler so making sure it’s in optimum condition before you need to rely on it to keep you warm is a smart move.
Always ensure that you instruct an engineer that is Gas Safe registered – this can be checked at https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/
| Tip: If you notice radiators emitting different temperatures at high or low levels, it may be likely that they need bleeding to remove excess air bubbles from the pipes. This will allow them to heat up properly and warm the room efficiently. View British Gas’ Guide on how to bleed radiators or ask your heating engineer when they inspect your boiler.
To avoid damage to pipes during the colder months it is crucial to look after them and adequately insulate them. The insulation will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing and expanding causing them to burst in frosty temperatures!
| Tip: always have the contact details of your local plumber in an accessible place in case of emergencies and leave this information with your neighbour or person checking your property if you go away.
Leaving your property unoccupied
If you are away from the property for a period of time or you own property that is unoccupied for the season it is recommended you leave heating on a low setting to keep water circulating. This will also reduce the risk of burst water pipes.
Another option would be to install a frost thermostat, which is designed to automatically instruct the heating system to warm up when a low temperature is recorded. This will eliminate the requirement to leave heating on at all times when vacant whilst still providing protection against frost damage to boilers and pipework. It is recommended to install the thermostat in one of the coldest areas in your property, such as the loft or garage.
| Tip: It is advisable to check with your home insurance provider as there is likely to be a clause regarding heating to a minimum temperature, rather than turning it off completely.
Windows and ventilation
Windows and doors are an area where your property will naturally lose a lot of heat. To reduce heat loss you should add insulation, check all seals around the frames and repair any damaged or broken ones.
| Tip: Although opening a window in the cooler weather is far from appealing, allowing fresh air to circulate around the property will assist in lowering condensation levels. Utilising extractor fans and trickle vents on windows is advisable for this and helps prevent a build-up of mould on your window frames from the condensation build up in these areas. View our ‘is it damp or poor ventilation ruining your home’ blog for more on this topic.
Gutters & Garden
Guttering should be cleared of leaves and other debris that may cause blockages. Blocked gutters cause water to overflow and if left untreated can lead to more serious issues such as staining on the external face of the property and eventually more severe internal issues such as penetrating damp.
| Tip: Pack away any loose items from the garden such as gardening tools and lightweight furniture so they don’t get caught in winds and cause damage to your or any neighbouring properties.
Service smoke and fire alarms
During the dark, winter months, the increased use of candles, fires and fairy lights are all additional fire hazards within the home. Although a vital task all year round, an annual pre-winter maintenance task to ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fully functioning to safeguard you and your home is a good idea.
Managing your property and the efficiency of items such as boilers and windows effectively will help to prevent any unexpected maintenance bills or failures when you need them to be performing at their best during the colder winter months.
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