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preparing your home for winter

Preparing Your Home For The Winter

"We're in for the coldest winter in 100 years". How long will it be before we see this on the front page of the various tabloid newspapers?

From our experience of previous years, we know this probably wont be the case. Instead it will probably just rain continuously and be a bit chilly, but who knows! Either way, now is the time to start preparing your home for the winter period. Below we've put together a quick overview of some home jobs that are well worth considering before the rain and gales set in.
 

Clear Out Gutters & Drains

Drain and gutter maintenance is often overlooked. It’s a messy job and reaching gutters can be an issue on many homes. As the summer draws to a close, trees will start dropping leaves and gutters can fill with foliage in no time. Once the blockage becomes too much, water can back up and leak down the walls of the house, or worse, into the house. Spending just a few minutes twice a year clearing this debris out can prevent a range of issues from forming later on. It also gives you a good chance to inspect your roof and other fixtures for damage. If you do spot any leaks or damage, we keep a large range of guttering & accessories in stock.

Alternatively, a Hedgehog Gutter Brush can simply be placed within a gutter. This prevents leaves and debris from building up, whilst leaving rainwater drain and flow freely.

For more handy tips on gutter maintenance CLICK HERE.
 

Inspect Roofs

A quick check of a roof is also a must before winter. Any loose tiles or damaged flashing can potentially cause damaging leaks in no time. Ideally these issues should be dealt with sooner rather than later. The same goes for flat roofs. Over time, UV rays, frosts and temperature fluctuations can cause the surface to become brittle, leading to cracks and subsequent leaks. Whilst a new roof would be the obvious answer, funds may not allow this. Cracks can be covered by temporary fibreglass repairs, or by a product such as WT1. WT1 is a waterproofing sealant which can be troweled or painted on, sealing a roof for many years to come.
 

Loft Insulation

For most, the loft is just a dumping ground, a treasure trove of clutter and old Christmas trees among other things. But it can also be key in saving you money. Studies show that up to 25% of heat lost from a home is through the roof, which can equate to up to £250 according to the energy saving trust. Laying down some loft insulation is both cheap and easy and with rolls of insulation available from less than £20, it'll pay for itself in no time.

For more information on loft insulation and its benefits CLICK HERE.
 

Sweep Chimneys

As with gutter cleaning, chimney sweeping is another one of those unpleasant jobs that often gets put off. Over time, soot and creosote (more-so from burning wood) can build up causing blockages and even chimney fires. To prevent this, it is suggested that chimneys should be swept twice a year. Whilst it is a doable DIY job, hiring in an expert is recommended, not just to ensure the job is done properly, but also to maintain cleanliness in your home.
 

Seal Up Any Draughts

Wind. It can be an annoyance in more ways than one, but especially when it’s responsible for causing those pesky draughts in your home. The good news is that preventing these draughts is usually cheap and easy, just the way we like it. Draughts are most likely to be found around the framework of your doors and windows, particularly if they're old. You can either seal these gaps with self-adhesive draught strips, or use a silicone sealant around the frames and edges.

Thick curtains can also make a difference, especially if your home only has single glazed windows.
 

Check Your Heating System

Service Your Boiler

Poorly maintained boilers can be a health hazard as well as a waste of money. It’s recommended that a boiler should be serviced once a year to ensure it's functioning as it should do. Poorly maintained boilers and gas fires can leak gas and/or carbon monoxide which can be dangerous. Whilst carbon monoxide alarms are available for a relatively small outlay (and most definitely recommended), a proper service and inspection via a GasSafe registered heating engineer is the safest way to go.

For a list of GasSafe registered heating engineers in your area CLICK HERE.
 
Bleed Radiators

Another easy DIY job is to check for air in your radiators. If you find a radiator is colder at the top than it is at the bottom, then this could suggest there is air in the system. To bleed a radiator, a special key is usually required, but these are usually easily obtainable. Before you start, turn off your central heating system and make sure you have some towels to hand to capture any spillages. Next simply insert the key or appropriate tool into the bleed valve and turn slowly anticlockwise. If there is air in the system, you will hear a hissing sound followed by a steady dribble of water, at this point, carefully close the bleed valve again. Best practice is to start on the ground floor and at the radiator furthest from the boiler, following the same practice after for the upstairs floor.
 

Protect Your Pipework

- External

Whilst blizzards and arctic temperatures are not especially common in the UK, our winters can nevertheless get a bit parky at times. For external pipework this can be an issue as, as we know, water expands when it freezes, which can cause some pretty disastrous situations such as burst pipes. Luckily this is cheap and simple to prevent. Polyethylene pipe lagging can be wrapped around external pipework and taps, which in most cases will be enough to prevent freezing. That is unless we have anything too drastic!

- Internal

Insulating hot water tanks and pipework will keep your water hot for that nice long bath or shower after a hard day’s work. Fitting a jacket to a hot water tank is shown to reduce heat loss by up to 75% per year. This can save around £35 annually. This may not seem a like a life changing amount, but as they say at Tesco, ‘every little helps!’
 

Ensure you’re on the best energy tariff

Banging your head against a wall probably would be easier than this one, but the potential savings make it well worth considering! As an example, moneysupermarket.com reckon there are savings of up to £670 available on gas and electricity, so it pays to check (literally!).
 

Home Insurance

Just a quick one this, but it's worth checking your home insurance to ensure sure you have the correct cover. The small print in some policies can exclude certain things such as flooding, or damage caused by natural phenomena’s, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.

Finally make sure you have a healthy stock of tea and coffee for the winter period. Nothing beats a hot brew during those long chilly evenings!

Until next time

RBM