Why it pays to get your property protected for winter
To avoid unwanted bills, it’s time to protect your house and wrap it up from the worst ravages of the coming months. Sharon Dale reports
THERE’S nothing like an icy blast to make you wish you’d tackled all those jobs on your domestic “to do” list.
By that time it could be too late and basic maintenance could easily have turned into an expensive repair or extortionate heating bills.
Those blocked gutters could’ve damaged the fabric of your property and caused damp, ditto that re-pointing and the loose slate you didn’t get round to.
And it’s easy to forget about insulation when you haven’t used the central heating for a few months.
Now is the time for action and to remember that protecting your property and making it more energy efficient really does pay.
Those who think that their insurance company will cough up for any winter damage may be disappointed.
M&S Money figures revealed a 200 per cent rise in the number of home insurance claims caused by wintry weather over the last three years and some were classed as invalid thanks to a lack of basic maintenance.
The research says that the most common damage during the winter season is caused by wind.
Burst pipes have become an increasingly common problem due to the harshness of the last couple of winters, while chimney fires are also a regular occurrence.
The Society of the Protection of Ancient Buildings is pressing home an age old message.
Back in 1877 one of the clarion calls of SPAB founder William Morris was: “Put protection in place of restoration. Stave off decay by daily care.”
That simple message is as relevant today as it was 135 years ago. Winterise your Home: Tips Check your roof for loose or missing tiles and replace any damaged or cracked ones.
Have your gutters checked and cleared. Also make sure they are fixed securely, otherwise, they may not be able to withstand the weight of ice and snow during the winter.
Look for blocked downpipes and check ground level gullies and drains to make sure they are clear of debris. Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes as splits and cracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur here and are not easily noticed.
Insulate any external pipes and turn off any water supply to the garden as this will help to prevent bursts.
Ensure any water pipes in your loft are lagged. If you are going away in winter, it is worth considering leaving any loft access open to let warm air rise and prevent your water tank from freezing.
Have your boiler serviced. It will be more efficient and your plumber can also add anti-freeze to your central heating system or fit a frost thermostat, which will turn on the boiler whenever the temperature falls below a minimum level.
Check paving and driveways for cracks and repair to avoid frost causing even more damage.
Check fencing panels and posts are in good condition and have been treated with a wood preserve.
Repair pointing and rendering on walls as this will allow water in the joints which may cause more damage should it freeze. It will also cause damp.
Invest in some WD40 and give locks on sheds a spray to stop them from seizing up. Save energy. Start by adding up how much your home cost to run last winter as this will give you the incentive to improve its performance.
Start by checking insulation. If you haven’t got it then there are lots of incentives and cheap deals. Check the Energy Saving Trust website, www.energysavingtrust. org.uk, tel: 0300 123 1234 for details and advice.
Insulating your loft to the recommended depth of 270mm is one of the most effective ways to save energy and could save you between £180 and £220 per year.
Make sure you have the right insulation for your property, especially if it is an old building and remember not to block or impede ventilation as this can lead to problems including condensation and black mould. Remove moisture from bathrooms and kitchens before it circulates and condenses by fitting extractor fans.
Plug draughty gaps and doors and windows. Around 20 per cent of heat in the average home is lost through draughts and unsealed gaps, which allow warm air to escape. Invest in draughtexcluders for doors, windows and letterboxes. You can apply a cheap, easy-to-fix brush or PVC seal on exterior doors and letterboxes. Beading and sealant can also be used to prevent draughts through gaps in floorboards and skirting boards.
Invest in an energy-efficient boiler. Heating and hot water account for about 60 per cent of the average fuel bill. Installing a high-efficiency condensing boiler can save around a third on energy bills. Your boiler might not be broken, but if it’s more than 15 years old, it’s probably time to replace it.
Also look into putting thermostats on radiators if you don’t have them already. They allow you to heat only the rooms you are using.
VILLAGE CENTRE: The Old Hall has been treated to a full renovation, which means it has character and mod cons. The house is tucked away in the centre of Grassington close to the village shops and eateries and comes with its own Bible which is passed on to every new owner.
DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT: Act to protect your property before it’s too late. The icy winds will be blowing soon and pipes will need lagging.