As you might have noticed, this winter has been a bit – well – weird.
To start with, it seemed to take a very long time to arrive at all. Christmas was mild and wet and the wind and rain has really stepped it up a notch for the start of 2016. The weirdness is not set to end there though, according to long range weather forecasts we’re in for a very cold snap just when we should be thinking about the start of spring.
All of these weird winter ingredients spell trouble for home maintenance. The warm and the wet made every bit of exposed wood in your home saturated and swollen. The wind has really battered any previously vulnerable render or misplaced roof tile and now the coming icy cold will put your entire home through its paces.
As your grandmother used to say, “a stitch in time saves nine” – taking precautions now will save you time, money and a lot of stress in the long run. A few quick and easy jobs done now could prevent damage, such as burst pipes, which will take a lot longer to fix than the initially preparing. As an added benefit, when you’re working towards winter-proofing your home, not only are you preventing any issues from unpredictable weather but you’re also adding value to your home.
To help save you time, money and an awful lot of hassle we’ve put together a few steps you can take to defend your home against the trials of a British winter.
Even though the benefits of insulation are fairly common knowledge a remarkable number of homes are still lacking. Think double glazing. Where you can, think extra loft and wall insulation. These will add value to your home in the form of making it much cheaper to heat but also will help when you come to sell. Buyers show little interest in draughty houses which lose heat easily.
Adding insulation might seem like a bit of a faff but insulating your home can ensure that you cut down on the 50% of heat lost keeping an uninsulated home warm each winter.
Make sure you lag your pipes! It doesn’t take much effort and it will prevent them from freezing. Be sure also to repair any dripping taps and leave the plugs in sinks in especially frosty weather. This will all help to stop water from freezing in the pipes. Be sure to find out where your stop tap is before adverse weather This will help in case of a flood as it will allow you to turn the water off.
Water companies will advise you that, if you are going away for a few days, you should leave the heating on low in extreme cold to prevent freezing. Most homeowners worry about fire and burglary when they’re away but water damage is one of the most common home insurance claims. People have more bathrooms today, which means greater scope for leaks and the trend for wood flooring makes it more expensive to repair. So keep your pipes well maintained!
If you ever notice the sunlight coming through the crack under the door or the wind whistling through keyholes when it’s blowing from the wrong direction then you’re also losing a lot of heat energy. Houses lose so much heat through badly-fitting doors and windows it’s usually worth spending a bit of money to have them properly draught-proofed and to fit a keyhole cover. This will save you money on heating bills and stop those unwanted drafts.
This is arguably the most important investment. It’s the most expensive, and the one that will save you a lot of money in the long run. Condensing boilers are the most efficient and if your current boiler is more than 15 years old and you replace it, adding a new set of heating controls, you can expect to save a quarter on your bills, and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. Make sure you contact a Gas Safe Registered engineer to discuss whether a combination or regular condensing boiler is most suitable for your home.
Gutters and drains
Autumn might feel like a very long time ago, but there will still potentially be plant debris in your gutters and drains. They can act like a bung, blocking your rain drainage with potentially terrible effects. The inevitable English rain will have nowhere to go, apart from spilling over and running down walls. Overflows like this cause damp and possibly internal leaks. By taking half an hour to examine your house for possible problems – loose bricks or cracks – then make a list and call in a roofer before the problems, and the weather, get any worse. Once the gutters have been cleaned, consider investing in mesh cages to stop more leaves floating into particularly problematic areas.
With the constant onslaught of rain our weird winter has brought with it your roof is really being tested. Before the anticipated cold sets in it’s worth checking for any loose tiles that might have been damaged in the high winds. By getting them fixed now you can prevent having a major leak on your hands.