Autumn is upon us and now is the time to make sure your property is in tip-top condition for the cold and wet months ahead. With the weather still mild, TrustMark, the Government endorsed 'find a tradesman' scheme, is advising property-owners to carry out a few regular maintenance jobs in order to winter-proof their property.
“Many winter-related disasters can be prevented if people plan ahead in the autumn to protect their properties from the wind, rain and freezing temperatures”, says Stuart Carter, Head of PR & Marketing at TrustMark. “We want property-owners to be prepared in case the worst does happen and to be able to rectify any problems as soon as possible, either by doing the work themselves providing you have the capability or call in a reputable tradesman. Taking some precautions before the winter weather kicks in and dealing with problems at an early stage can ward off the need for more extensive and expensive repairs later on down the line.”
TrustMark has compiled a checklist that offers some autumn property maintenance tips:
Roofing and guttering
- Clean out your gutters and make sure downpipes and any outlets are clear of leaves and debris and repair any leaking gutters if needed. If a gutter is then blocked up with water it could freeze and pull away from the building, causing further damage, and a backlog of water could run the risk of freezing which could burst your pipes.
- Inspect the roof (e.g. carefully from the ground) for any broken, loose or missing slates/tiles/mortar or flashings and watch for any early signs of leaks or condensation on the ceilings, especially at the outer edges of the ceilings. And in the case of ice and snow on the roof, make sure there is nothing that can be damaged should it slide off when thawing.
Saving energy and money
- Getting your boiler serviced or inspected should always be at the forefront of any autumn MOT as a boiler breakdown is a grim experience. Many property-owners do not realise that a well-maintained boiler will burn less fuel so having your boiler checked and your heating system serviced will save money and most importantly, it could potentially avoid a terrible tragedy.
- Ensuring your loft has adequate insulation and even fitting draught excluders will both help keep your house warmer and save you energy. Too few households take sufficient measures to fully insulate their properties – these are often simple steps, some costing very little, and it can mean a much warmer property and so less need to turn up the thermostat. For example, if you have less than 10cm of insulation in your loft you’ll be wasting energy so top the insulation up to 27cm and you could save around £150 a year.
- With our winters expected to get colder and heating costs on the rise, it’s important to make sure your property is well insulated and retaining as much heat as possible. Close all windows and only open them during the day when the sun is shining so the rooms can absorb the free light and warmth. Insert a rubber or foam window draft excluder in each room, which will immediately stop draughts from entering a room and in return it will keep rooms warmer which will make it cheaper to heat.
- Put up thick curtains to block draughts. Curtains lined with heavy material can reduce heat loss from a room through the windows at night and considerably reduce draughts. Also hollow blinds fitted into place with a sealed frame and sealed shutters will also help cut draughts and keep your heat in for longer.
Bedding down for winter
- The cooler but still pleasant temperatures in autumn make it an ideal time to tidy up the garden and give you a head start on the growing season. Clear away fallen leaves and other debris, especially front lawns, ponds and beds, and trim trees or remove dead branches – ice, snow and wind could cause weak trees or branches to break and cause damage.
- Raise containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging and insulate outdoor containers and delicate plants from the frost – bubble wrap works well. Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display next year and prune plants and shrubs to prevent wind-rock. Bring your patio furniture in for the winter, or cover it up to protect it from the elements, and put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden.