Winter is tough in many ways. Bad weather conditions make it harder to commute to work and the cost of heating our homes can easily go through the roof if we are subjected to a long spell of exceptionally cold temperatures. But it isn’t all bad news and as long as you are well organised, you can winter-proof your home and reduce the risk of expensive problems occurring once winter comes. So what are the main maintenance jobs you can’t afford to ignore?
Central heating boilers need to be serviced annually. This helps to prevent minor problems from snowballing into major faults that leave you without hot water in your towel radiator or no central heating on the coldest day of the year. A regular service also keeps your boiler running more efficiently. Make a date in your diary to have your boiler serviced in the summer – central heating engineers tend to be less busy in that time of year.
Clear the Gutters
The onset of autumn will cause your gutters to fill up with dead leaves and organic matter. If you don’t clear your gutters out you could end up with a blockage and/or a broken gutter and it will end up costing you a lot more money.
Check for Loose Tiles
Rain, wind and frost will soon find a way into your home if you have a loose or missing tile. Make sure your perform a visual check of the roof before winter comes so any damage can be rectified before bad weather prevents a roofing specialist from gaining access to the problem area. Loose cement holding tiles in place should also be fixed before winter comes as frost and cold weather will only make matters worse.
Have the Chimney Swept
If you have an open fire or a wood-burning stove, the chimney needs to be swept at least once a year. A failure to keep your chimney clean could lead to a fire carbon monoxide poisoning. Chimney sweeps tend to be very busy in the autumn, so it is a good idea to book one in spring or summer. If you are not sure who to try, ask around for recommendations. And don’t forget to look out for the chimney sweep’s brush popping out of the chimney – it is supposed to be good luck.
Check Insulation on Pipes
Sub-zero temperatures play havoc on pipes. External water pipes such as those attached to outside taps need to be insulation to protect them from frost. If you don’t do this, they may burst. You should also check the level of insulation on pipes in the loft (if applicable) as these are also at risk during episodes of freezing temperatures. At the same time, make sure you know where the water stopcock is, just in case.
Buy a Snow Shovel
It might not snow, but in the event it does, have a large snow shovel handy so you can clear paths and driveways quickly. A bag of salt and grit will also come in useful if snow and ice turn your drive and pathways into a skating rink.
Store Garden Furniture
Don’t leave your garden furniture outside all winter, as it won’t be much use to you when spring arrives. If you have room in your garage or a shed, take any cushions indoors and store everything else away. If not, buy some protective covers and lash them down as securely as possible.
Have a comprehensive maintenance schedule for the autumn so that when winter comes you are fully prepared. Tick off each task as you complete it so you know exactly what you have left to do. It will save you money in the long run!
Photo by Doug