As the temperature starts to drop, ok we are having a BIT of an Indian summer, it’s important to make sure winter home maintenance is in hand before the cold weather really kicks in.
It comes as excess winter deaths caused by cold homes in Great Britain ‘up by about a half,’ reports The Guardian.
By making a few simple checks and attending to some maintenance tasks, you can ensure your home stays safe and energy-efficient this winter. Some of these tasks should be done annually at the end of autumn, while others should be conducted regularly throughout the season to keep your home warm, dry, and safe all winter long. Below, the experts from tool and PPE retailer Zoro share some of the biggest home maintenance tasks you should see to.
Winter home maintenance
The end of autumn is the perfect time to start preparing your home for winter. These tasks should only need to be done once a year to stay on top of them.
Bleed your radiators
Your heating system is one of the most important aspects of your home come wintertime, so you’ll want to make sure it’s in full working order before you need to have it on regularly. Even if you haven’t noticed any problems, you should bleed your radiators once per year to get rid of any air that may have built up in the system. To do this, you’ll simply need to open the radiator bleed valve (at the top of your radiator) using a radiator key. It’ll hiss as the air escapes. Once the hissing stops, you can close the valve again.
While you should bleed your radiators once each year, you may notice that they’ll need to be done again later on in the season. If the top of your radiator feels colder than the bottom, this is a sign that it needs bleeding.
Check your roof and gutters
At the end of autumn, check your roof to ensure it’s ready for the cold and wet weather by making sure there are no cracked, slipped, or missing tiles. While you should make this an annual maintenance task, it might also be beneficial to check your roof after a particularly bad spell of weather, such as high winds or heavy rain.
While you’re inspecting your roof, now is a good time to also clean your gutters. It’s best to do this at the end of autumn as falling leaves, along with a general build-up of dirt, can quickly clog up your guttering and prevent rainwater from draining away. If not cleared annually, this can lead to leaks and water damage. If your home is surrounded by lots of trees, you may want to clean your gutters more regularly.
Clear your chimney
There’s nothing better than an open fire during winter. To help you get the most out of your fire, it’s important to get your chimney cleaned at least once per year. This will help prevent a build-up of soot, which leads to poor ventilation. This, in turn, will lead to a more efficient burn and can reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
While some tasks only need to be done once each year, others will need to be conducted more regularly to stay on top of them. Each month, you should:
Check your boiler pressure
Your boiler pressure refers to the pressure of the water in your heating system. This should usually sit between one and two bars. If it falls below this, then you may notice that you have no heating or hot water, and you’ll need to top the pressure back up. To ensure you have a constant source of heat all through the winter months, it’s worth keeping an eye on your boiler pressure by checking it once per month. While you shouldn’t need to top it up too often, it’s worth checking often to ensure you catch low boiler pressure before your heating and hot water starts to be affected. You should also check your boiler pressure after bleeding your radiators, as this task can cause the pressure to drop slightly.
Check for damp
The cold and wet weather can make winter a prime season for damp, so it’s worth checking your home regularly. Signs of damp will be easy to spot and include yellow or brown staining, mould, crumbling plaster, or a musty smell. It’s important to act quickly as soon as you notice signs of damp as, if left untreated, it can not only cause structural damage to your home but also has the potential to cause health problems such as respiratory issues.
Damp can enter your home through your brickwork or damaged areas (such as holes in your roof) or as a result of poor ventilation. Regular maintenance should help reduce the likelihood of damp. You may also want to invest in a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
Alongside your monthly maintenance tasks, there are a few jobs you’ll want to conduct more regularly, at least once per week.
Check for draughts
Draughts can let out some of your valuable heat, which can make your home less energy efficient. It’s worth keeping an eye out for any areas that might be letting in a draught so you can cover them up accordingly. Key draught-prone areas include around windows and under doors, floorboards, and in lofts. You can seal draughty windows with a window sealant or draught-proofing strip and patch up draughty floorboards with pieces of wood or a floorboard filler. Draught excluders will stop heat from escaping under doors. Making sure your loft is adequately insulated will help stop heat from escaping through your roof.
Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
You should check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector at least once per week, especially during the winter months when you light your fire regularly or your boiler is working overtime. You can check your alarms by pressing and holding the ‘Test’ button. If it is working correctly then the alarm will sound. Your carbon monoxide alarm should beep four times before a short pause and four more beeps. If either alarm doesn’t make a sound, then you may need to replace the battery.
To ensure your home is as warm and energy efficient as possible, it’s worth taking some time out of your day each day for a few small maintenance tasks. While they may seem minor, these tasks can help prevent any larger problems.
Although you’ll want to keep your home as warm and cosy as possible during the winter months, it’s worth opening your windows for at least five minutes each day to air out your home and prevent damp. To remind yourself to do it, make it part of your morning routine while you make the bed, or air out your room each evening as you prepare for sleep.
You may notice condensation building up on your windows over winter. This is very common and is a result of warm air landing on the cool glass. Condensation is more likely to happen if you’ve had your radiators on, particularly if you’ve been drying clothes on them, and have had your curtains closed (which traps the warm air). While condensation may seem like a small issue, it’s important to clear it away each day to prevent mould from building up around your windows. Opening your window slightly and keeping it on the night latch will also provide enough ventilation to allow the moisture to escape without letting in the cold air.
Kelly Friel, Digital Product Manager at Zoro said: “Taking the time to conduct a few checks and regular maintenance work over the winter months could save you money in the long run. Not only will they help reduce the need for costly repairs, but they can also make your home more energy-efficient and cheaper to run — and, of course, more comfortable. While energy bills are set to drop slightly this autumn, it’s worth making some time for these small tasks to keep your consumption to a minimum.”