Wrapping up your home for winter will pay off
With a hard winter predicted, it pays to protect your home from the worst ravages the British weather can throw at it.
ANOTHER harsh winter is forecast and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is urging homeowners to prepare their property for the onslaught.
Homes are vulnerable to attack both from the outside elements and the moist, warm conditions that build-up inside during cold weather.
Charters-Reid Surveyors says: “A winter property audit is advisable. Look at the roof, walls, floors, windows and doors and then repair, seal or insulate where ever possible.”
Sainsbury’s home insurance also recommends some basic maintenance. Research shows that in the last two years, 37 per cent of homeowners have been affected by problems that could have been prevented by checks, such as having a boiler serviced or by bleeding radiators.
The survey also showed that the weather-related incidents cost homeowners a collective £7.9bn to put right. The most frequent problems were blocked guttering, leaking roofs and damaged boilers, with the average repair bill being £454.
David Barrett of Sainsbury’s Home Insurance says: “There are a number of measures that homeowners can take to minimise the risk of falling victim to winter weather damage.
“Having your boiler serviced, checking and bleeding your radiators and clearing your guttering are easy to do and could prevent the need for costly and inconvenient repairs at this time of year.
“Ultimately it’s important to ensure that you have a good quality home insurance policy in place. It’s also worth checking if you have home emergency cover, as this will help you find an approved tradesman in the event of an emergency, like escaping water or if your heating or electricity fails.”
Winterise your home: tips from the RICS:
Heating systems. Check your heating system is in order; this includes servicing the boiler and insulating hot water tanks to ensure you aren’t paying out lots of cash for a system that you don’t feel the full benefit of.
Central heating boilers should be checked and serviced at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You may also want to consider flushing the system to ensure water flow through radiators is unobstructed.
If you notice that a radiator is warm at the bottom but cool at the top, this could mean that there is air in the system, which prevents the warm circulating water from reaching the top of the radiator. If you suspect air in the system then the radiator might require bleeding.
Roof. This can be inspected safely from ground level using binoculars or get an expert to check it for you, though be careful to employ someone reputable. This is a trade that attracts cowboys. Check 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 defective ones 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 too as it is important that the tanks and pipes in the loft do not freeze. So never insulate below the tank and make sure the lid is on the cold-water tank.
Gutters and drains. Clear them of leaves and debris. Take particular care that the gullies are clear as overflowing gutters can drench walls and cause damage.
Walls. A third of heat lost in the home is through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is a good option. Check the pointing too as frost can play havoc with poorly maintained walls.
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. 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. A good set of thick curtains can make a big difference to heat loss too.
Doors and floorboards. Stop draughts through letterboxes by fitting a cover and put a sealant around door frames. If there are stripped floors in place, consider putting down rugs in the winter to reduce draughts that blow up between the boards.
Ventilation. Letting a property breathe the warm air out is just as important as stopping cold air from coming in. Showers, cooking, periodic short bursts of heating throughout the day and a lack of ventilation can all lead to a build-up of what amounts to many litres of water daily, which forms condensation and damp throughout the home. This problem can be reduced simply by opening the windows every now and then.
Protect pipes. Pipes in cold areas such as cellars and garages can freeze and split in cold weather. Consider lagging them. You can buy click on foam jackets for them from DIY stores. Garden taps are also vulnerable so invest in insulation covers for them too, again available at DIY outlets.
HOWZAT: Upper Rookes Hall has five bedrooms and a Smallbone kitchen. It oozes character and has mullioned windows along with original panelling and fireplaces. Outside there are south facing gardens with large lawned areas and flowerbeds and a cricket pitch with its own pavilion.
OUTSIDE THREATS: Snow and ice can play havoc with a home that has not had basic checks performed to ensure it is able to withstand winter.