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Winter-Proof your Home

Winter-Proof your Home

3rd January 2015

With the cold weather now upon us, we have drawn up some tips on how to help stop the predicted harsh weather from taking its toll on your property as well as ideas on how to potentially reduce your heating and maintenance bills.

The outside of a house takes a battering in the winter so a realistic, 360 degree assessment of its current condition is advisable – think roof, walls, floors, windows and doors and repair, seal or insulate where possible.

Your home is vulnerable to attack from the elements outside elements but also from the moist, warm conditions that build-up inside during the winter months. Letting your home breathe the warm air out is equally as important as preventing the cold air from coming in.

Everyday tasks such as showers, washing up and drying laundry combined with periodic bursts of heating and a lack of ventilation can lead to litres of water that form condensation and damp in your home on a daily basis. This will be most obviously present on windows, window sills, furniture and walls and can be prevented by simply opening the windows every now and then.

Some helpful tips from the RICS winter property checklist include:

Roof

  • Inspect the roof and replace any cracked tiles
  • If chimney pots are in place but not in-use consider protecting them, by fitting ventilated cowls

 Loft

  • Check the insulation is in good condition (up to current standard)
  • Avoid over insulating. It is important that the tanks and pipes in the loft do not freeze, so do not insulate below the tank
  • Make sure the lid is on the cold-water tank

Gutters and drains

  • Clear them of leaves and debris as overflowing gutters can drench walls and cause damage
  • Install gutter protectors which will help keep these clear through the winter months.
  • Insulate external drain pipes with waterproof tape or similar

Walls

  • 33% of the heat lost from your home escapes through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is an option which can reduce your energy bills as well as boosting the value and saleability of your property.
  • Check the pointing – frost can play havoc with poorly maintained walls
  • Make sure water can run off the building; fill gaps to cement angle fillets at wall junctions
  • Consider fitting reflective foil behind radiators on outside walls to minimise heat loss

External paving

  • In very cold weather water on paving will freeze; ensure the paving is well drained and avoid water collecting which can freeze and cause accidents.

Decking

  • Check that it hasn’t obstructed air bricks and gulleys
  • Ideally decking should be treated before the winter since it can become slippery
  • Take care when walking on decking, particularly in wet or cold weather

Windows

  • Check perimeters of all windows to make sure water flows away from glass and doesn’t collect on the sill, or drain behind it
  • Try to minimise draughts. Double glazing cuts heat loss through windows by 50%; if not already in place, consider upgrading your windows or fitting a cheaper option such as secondary glazing or polythene which can be added easily across the window frames.
  • Curtains can make a big difference to heat loss; thermally insulated curtains for windows and the outside doors are even more effective

Doors

  • Stop draughts through letterboxes by fitting a cover and put a sealant around the door frames

Floors

  • Fill gaps between exposed floor boards
  • If there are stripped floors in place consider putting down rugs in the winter to reduce draughts up between the boards
  • Ensure central heating pipework in the ventilated floor voids is insulated (70% of the heat input may be lost if uninsulated)

Chimney

  • Have wood and coal burning flues swept
  • Fit chimney balloons in open flues

Boilers

  • Have your boiler serviced
  • If you have a condensing boiler, insulate the external condensate and ensure it is of the correct bore
  • Consider fitting a trace heater to prevent the boiler from freezing
  • Check your heating system is in order; insulate hot water tanks, and bleed radiators

 

Finally, seek professional advice where needed. Although a number of the tasks in this list are relatively simple, certain tasks (such as roof maintenance, repointing, boiler servicing, etc.) will need to be carried out by reputable professionals. What are your tips for winter-proofing a property? Share with us on Facebook