Last updated: 25/11/20
Winter home maintenance
As we approach the winter months, the changing weather conditions can cause damage to your home. However, with a few easy steps you can prepare your property for the long, cold months ahead.
How to prepare your house for winter
1) Test your heating
As we transition from summer to winter, you’ll probably be re-acquainting yourself with your heating. Before the weather gets really cold, start to think about whether your radiators need bleeding, check that your boiler is working and dust off the vents/filters for maximum benefit. This will give you some time to make sure everything is still working before the days get too cold!
2) Service your boiler
Check that the pilot light is on and re-light it if necessary. Instructions on how to do this will be in the boiler manual, or on the side of the boiler itself. It may also be worth having your boiler serviced by a Gas Safety registered engineer. This will ultimately give you peace of mind, as leaking carbon monoxide is a risk at any time of the year.
3) Check your windows and doors
Through the summer you may have left windows on the latch for some fresh air. To save on your heating bill, do a quick whip round and make sure they’re shut tight ready for the colder weather. Also check whether there are any gaps in windows and doors so you can seal them and reduce draughts (and heating costs!).
4) Check your guttering
Clear any rubbish/leaves from your gutters to prevent a build-up which could result in icy, heavy gutters collapsing when the cold weather starts.
5) Hire a chimney sweep
The winter weather can cause damage to your chimney, so the pre-winter months are a great time to get your chimney swept.
6) Insulate your pipes
Insulating (or lagging) your pipes can reduce the loss of heating and also prevent them freezing and bursting.
7) Look after your pipes
As the cold weather sets in, the water in your pipes may freeze causing them to burst. Not only could this cause a lot of expensive damage, but it may mean you have to move out whilst the repairs are undertaken.
• Keep an eye on any cracks or holes that may appear in the outside walls that might let cold air make its way to your pipes. Seal up any gaps before they become a larger issue.
• Keep the heating at a low level (above 4°C) even when you’re away from the property, as this will help maintain a consistent temperature around the pipes.
8) Locate your stopcock
Just in case of emergencies (such as burst pipes), knowing where your stopcock is will enable you to turn the cold water system off and limit further damage. The stopcock is usually located under your kitchen sink and normally looks like a tap/lever.
9) Bleed radiators
After a few months out of action, you may find that your radiators are cold at the top and hot at the bottom. This normally means the radiator needs bleeding. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your heating (and money), test your radiators and bleed them as we transition into winter.
10) Use your heating timer
Using a timer for your heating can make sure your heating system runs smoothly, your house is a comfortable temperature and helps prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
11) Create a power cut kit
To avoid being caught in the dark, create a power cut kit. This could include torches, candles, matches, blankets, a battery-operated radio and maybe some board games for entertainment!
12) Make sure your oil tank is topped up
If your property has an oil tank, make sure it’s topped up for winter. Doing so will help you avoid peak winter prices and make sure you don’t run out of oil through the colder months.
13) Get your outdoor space ready
Making sure your garden is clear, clean and ready for winter is a good idea. Secure anything that could be swept away by the wind such as greenhouses, plant pots and wheelie bins. Keeping on top of any leaves in your garden is also a good idea so they don’t build up over the autumn.
14) Brush up on drying washing indoors
This may sound strange, but drying washing indoors and avoiding condensation could be considered an art! Check out these tips for avoiding condensation when you’re drying washing indoors.
15) Ventilate your property
As well as drying washing properly, there are some other things you can do to prevent damp during the colder months. For example, to prevent warm air and steam entering colder rooms, close the kitchen door whilst cooking, use extractor fans in the bathroom etc.
16) Undertake some shed maintenance
Make sure your shed is secure, especially if you have expensive items held there (such as power tools or lawn mowers).
17) Get your roof checked
Roof slates/tiles can become loose throughout the year and this could lead to leaks through the winter. It may be a good idea to get your roof inspected by a professional to make sure there are no areas that need fixing before the colder months.
18) Check your outdoor lights
Taking the bins out at 6:30pm? It’ll probably be dark by then during winter! To make sure you always have a safe, well-lit route around your home grounds, make sure your outdoor lights are in working order.
19) Brush up on your home security
We’ve already mentioned that UK crime rates tend to be higher in the winter. For this reason, just check your doors, fences and gates are all working properly and secured. You could also consider whether you need any additional home security.
20) Make sure your property is insured
One of the most important things to consider when heading into winter is whether you have home insurance. The winter months bring darker nights which lead to higher crime rates, plus the UK weather obviously starts declining in the winter. Not only will most home insurers provide cover for things like theft, but also fire and flood too.
A lot of people experience issues with their property throughout the winter months, so unsurprisingly this is when a lot of people need to make a claim under their home insurance policy. Check that you have sufficient cover in place, and that you understand what cover is provided under your policy. It’s also worth ensuring you know who you need to contact, and what you’ll need to provide to your insurer if you do need to make a claim.
Find out more about Howden’s range of home insurance policies today.