As winter looms ever closer (and it’s set to be the coldest in more than 50 years), it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for sub-zero temperatures. If you don’t protect your home from the elements now, you may find it costs you much more in the long term, should any damage occur.
Way back in 1963, the temperature in the UK was so cold that the sea froze over! It was the coldest winter since 1740, bringing blizzards, blocks of ice, snowdrifts and temperatures as low as -20°C. Now meteorologists have predicted this winter will be the coldest since 1963. Even worse, it could kick in before the end of October!
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Taking charge now will help to protect your home from the problems snow and ice can bring. By the time the chill arrives, your home should be ready for anything that the weather can throw at it. After all, dealing with a leaking window or roof, broken boiler or burst pipe when it’s freezing outside isn’t the ideal way to spend a cold winter’s day!
Have your central heating system professionally serviced. If you have a gas boiler, you should have a routine maintenance check annually anyway, so having it done every autumn will help make sure your boiler is running properly before the cold snap sets in.
If you have an older thermostat, it may be worth replacing it with a more modern programmable one that can save you money on heating costs by turning off automatically when the room reaches the required temperature.
Have your chimney swept before using your fireplace and ensure the vents are clean and in full working order. This will help to stop carbon monoxide from building up in your home and can also prevent chimney fires.
Windows and doors
Inspect your windows and doors to check for leaks. No-one wants water coming in through a leaking window frame in the middle of winter. Make sure both your doors and windows are properly sealed to prevent draughts and heat loss too.
Replace the sealant when necessary. If you can feel draughts, apply caulk both inside and out. This will have the dual effect of keeping the cold out and the heat in. It will also save you money on heating bills.
Roof and gutter
Get a professional to clean out the gutter to make sure it’s free from debris, such as leaves and dirt. Clogged gutters prevent rainwater and melting snow from draining away, resulting in leaks or damp in your home. Make sure the downspouts extend away from your home by at least 5ft to ensure rainwater runs away from your property, as it can cause damp in the walls otherwise.
Have a roofer inspect your roof for loose, missing or damaged tiles. Also, ask an expert to check out the caulk around the air vents and chimney.
Pad any exposed pipes in unheated areas to prevent them from freezing and bursting. This is an inexpensive method of helping to prevent water damage. Even a small burst pipe can cause problems. In particular, aim to cover pipes in the attic or basement, where temperatures are likely to be colder.
Water left standing in an outside tap and hosepipe can freeze, causing burst pipes, so disconnect your garden hose after draining any remaining water. While in the garden, trim back any overgrown bushes or tree branches away from your home, as they can cause damage in high winds, should they go through a window.
Winter-proofing your home may seem like a hassle, but it’s a small price to pay when it can help prevent damage. This is also a good time to stock up on useful items such as sand, salt and snow shovels to deal with snow and ice on your path.
Renting a property
If you rent a property, your landlord should carry out some essential checks on your behalf. These include servicing the boiler, checking the window and door seals, checking the insulation, cleaning the gutters and inspecting any trees and bushes around the property for signs of rot that might prove dangerous in gales.
Although not a legal requirement, a landlord should also advise tenants to leave the heating on at a low temperature if they are going away for a few days, in case there’s a big freeze in their absence. To reduce the chances of the pipes freezing and bursting, taps can also be left dripping slightly when not in use.
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