The cold can damage your home so check your property
THE RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is urging householders to be aware of the damaging effects of cold weather.
The property experts warns that once the snow and ice has melted, it can reveal areas that need improving or repairing.
Chartered surveyor Jonathan Charters-Reid, of Charters-Reid & Associates and a Yorkshire RICS spokesperson, says: “The exterior of a house will take a battering during these extremely harsh weather conditions. So once the snow and ice has cleared up, a 360 degree assessment of its condition is advisable – think roof, walls, floors, windows and doors. These need to be improved and repaired by sealing and insulating better where possible, ready for further freezing weather conditions.”
But it is not just the exterior of a property that can be damaged by sub-zero temperatures.
Mr Charters-Reid adds: “Letting a property breathe warm air out is just as important as stopping cold air from coming in. Today’s lifestyle of showers, washing up, periodic short bouts of heating throughout the day and a lack of ventilation can lead to a build-up of what amounts daily to litres of water which forms condensation and damp on windows, walls, floors and ceilings. This problem can be reduced by simply opening the windows every now and then.”
The RICS recommends that householders carry out a winter property audit once the weather improves. Areas that need to checked include: Roof This can be inspected safely from ground level using binoculars. 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. Inspect the flashings around chimney stacks and at abutments – replace any that are defective and re-fix any that are loose.
Loft Check the insulation is in good condition and that there are no areas where insulation is missing. Avoid over insulating as it is important that the tanks and pipes in the loft do not freeze, so do not insulate below the tank and make sure the lid is firmly fitted to the cold-water tank.
Gutters/drains Clear of any left over twigs, leaves and debris – take particular care that the gulleys are clear as overflowing gutters can drench walls and cause damage. Check for signs of leaking gutters and rainwater pipes. Walls A third of heat lost in the home is through the walls – cavity wall insulation is a good option. Check the pointing – frost can play havoc with poorly maintained walls. Make sure water can run off the property; fill gaps to cement angle fillets at wall junctions. 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 It is important to minimize drafts – if double-glazing is not in place (it cuts heat loss through windows by 50 per cent), consider fitting cheaper options such as secondary glazing or put polythene across the window frames. Curtains can make a big difference to heat loss. Doors Stop draughts through letterboxes by fitting a cover and put a sealant around the door frames. Floorboards If there are stripped floors in place consider putting down rugs in the winter to reduce drafts up between the boards. Heating systems Check your heating system is in order; service boilers, insulate hot water tanks, bleed radiators. Make sure that climbing plants, shrubs and bushes do not obstruct boiler flues – if this is the case the boiler should be inspected by a specialist.
For more details view the RICS Property Makeover Guide at: www.rics.org/usefulguides. To find a surveyor in your area visit www.ricsfirms.com or call the RICS Contact Centre on 0870 333 1600.