Remember the halcyon days of Summer, when all we had standing in the way of a good time was a global pandemic? Well, Winter 2020 is a very different beast, and while we hope we won’t be warding off another one from the east (remember those blizzards and the bitter, bitter cold we experienced back in 2018?), a whole new set of problems lurk with the inclement weather of the year’s latter months.
According to research by Aviva, prompted by the year’s troublesome events, two fifths of UK residents are taking extra precautions to get their homes ready for Winter this year, and have carried out extra home maintenance work this year.
Since we’re all spending more time at home, we’re increasingly fixing up our properties ourselves and turning to DIY home maintenance for, whisper it, a spot of comfort. If you’re looking to prevent any unwanted cold weather surprises this year (and keep yourself busy, too), then read on; here are 8 home maintenance tasks for you to tackle this Winter.
SEAL IN THE HEAT
The seals around your doors and windows are a major source of heat loss. If you’re keen to lock heat in, then it’s imperative that you check the seals around your doors and windows. Simply run your finger around the seals or use a screwdriver to check for hidden gaps. Filling them with caulk is a simple DIY job – here’s how to do it.
GUTTERS & DRAINS
Clearing out your gutter and drains of debris and buildup isn’t a fun job, but it’s a necessary one. Well maintained gutters reduce the need to replace them in the long run, moreover, having gutters free of debris minimises the chance of roof damage and water build up. You’ll want to invest in a suitable, safe ladder for this.
Speaking of roofs, roof damage is one of the most common issues to affect homes in Winter. As such, it’s important you check yours. A simple inspection is all that’s required here, making sure that there are no loose or cracked tiles, or slates on your roof, as breakages or gaps could let water in. We’ve written a DIY guide on how to check your roof for damage here; do check it out. And if in doubt, a second opinion by a professional never hurts.
PROTECT YOUR PIPES
A frozen pipe is simply not something you want to mess with; it can burst, flood your home and cause a myriad of problems in the process. Before we enter the deepest recesses of Winter, it’s sensible to check yours are clear of obstruction and damage.
Prevention is clearly preferable to cure here, and the best way to pre-empt and protect from frozen or burst pipes is to keep your house at a consistent temperature, preferably via your thermostat. Even if you’re away on a winter holiday, it’s a good idea to have your heating on a timer, at least coming on for a couple of hours each day, to keep your pipes in good nick. Insulating your pipes is also a smart move.
CALL IN THE CHIMNEY SWEEP
Ok, we know that we said these were tasks to tackle yourself. However, some Winter maintenance jobs really do require a professional’s hand, and chimney sweeping is one of them. Not cleaning a chimney can lead up to a build up of soot, which in turn can cause a chimney fire. Shropshire Gas, who offer chimney sweep services in Shrewsbury, recommend getting your chimney cleaned annually, before the onset of Winter and the lighting of cosy, contained domestic fires, to ensure yours are safe.
GIVE YOUR BOILER A DRY RUN
Speaking of checks to get done before Winter fully sets in, it’s also a smart move to give your boiler a dry run to check everything is working prior to December and the beginning of the colder months. If you leave it until the temperatures reach those dreaded minuses, only to discover things are amiss, then you’ll be at the back of the queue when it comes to getting it fixed. Indeed, every plumber and heating engineer will attest that demand for their services shoots up as the colder months arrive.
As such, test things yourself and even if everything is working, get it serviced to ensure that this is going to remain the case. The boiler experts at *checks notes* IDEAL Magazine have written a really useful guide about when to know when your boiler needs servicing. Do check it out.
BLEED RADIATORS & INSULATE
Other ways you can ensure your heating system is in good working order is to bleed your radiators, lag your pipes and insulate your hot water tank – this could save you quite a bit on your energy bills, too. In particular, radiators need to be bled each Winter to ensure they are running at full capacity and efficiency. Fear not; it’s an easy task to complete.
LEARN THE SIGNS
It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of problems in your home so that you can address these issues quickly. A few things to look out for include signs of damp in your property such as a musty smell, mould, peeling paint or wallpaper, or sometimes the wall might be wet to the touch. Flickering lights and sparking outlets are indicators of electrical faults or appliances short-circuiting when plugged into certain sockets, and an unwelcome draught is a sign of potential damage to doors and windows. Good luck!