Get­ting your home ready for win­ter will pay off

The first frosts of the sea­son ar­rived in York­shire this week and they her­ald a win­ter warn­ing for home­own­ers. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

BE pre­pared is a motto all home­own­ers should abide by at this time of year. The win­ter sol­stice, on De­cem­ber 21, may be weeks away, but the first frosts have bit­ten and in­sur­ers are brac­ing them­selves for the sea­sonal rush of claims.

Burst pipes, wrecked roof tiles and col­lapsed gut­ters are among the most com­mon causes of dam­age brought by se­vere weather, though insurance com­pa­nies may not pay out if they feel a lack of gen­eral main­te­nance is partly to blame.

That’s not the only rea­son why you should “winterise” your home.

TV pre­sen­ter Jules Hud­son is lead­ing this year’s SPAB, So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of An­cient Build­ings, Na­tional Main­te­nance Week cam­paign and says: “From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence I know how costly it can be when a build­ing hasn’t been prop­erly main­tained and I’m not re­fer­ring to dif­fi­cult or com­plex work. Some­thing as sim­ple as fix­ing a cou­ple of bro­ken roof tiles or mend­ing dam­aged gut­ter­ing could pre­vent a rel­a­tively mi­nor prob­lem from escalating into a ma­jor, ex­pen­sive re­pair job.”

He adds: “I am con­stantly amazed at the amount of time, pride and ef­fort peo­ple put into look­ing af­ter their cars, when they seem happy to ig­nore on­go­ing prob­lems around a build­ing. Re­ally, it boils down to the same thing. A build­ing needs a main­te­nance MOT. The bot­tom line is that if you deal with a small, nig­gly is­sue early on it’s usu­ally sim­pler and cheaper to put right. The longer you leave some­thing the more dam­age is done. Don’t put it off.”

Here are some sea­sonal main­te­nance tips:

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Axa sur­vey, 59 per cent of home­own­ers hadn’t checked their gut­ters for three years and 24 per cent had never cleared their gut­ters at all. Blocked gut­ter­ing can lead to over­flows, damp and dam­age to a build­ing. Novem­ber is the time to start trou­ble shoot­ing as this is when they be­come blocked by au­tumn leaf fall and de­bris like twigs and old bird nests. If leaves are a big prob­lem you can fit mesh gut­ter guards, which are easy to in­stall – check out YouTube for how to videos. Have gut­ters re-fixed if they are slop­ing the wrong way or dis­charg­ing wa­ter onto the wall

Check drain­pipes by tap­ping. If there is a block­age, you will hear a muf­fled sound. You can also look for tell-tale stained brick­work be­hind the pipe and check dur­ing heavy rain­fall to see if wa­ter is leak­ing from joints. Use a hand mir­ror to look be­hind them as splits and cracks in old cast iron and alu­minium of­ten oc­cur here and are not eas­ily no­ticed.

Ex­am­ine your roof. Look for bro­ken and loose tiles, cracks in the chim­ney and re­move any veg­e­ta­tion grow­ing on tiles, around the chim­ney as this will al­low frost to pen­e­trate. The Axa re­port re­vealed 31 per cent of home­own­ers hadn’t checked the state of their roofs in five years and 11 per cent have never checked their roofs, yet even a rel­a­tively small gap can let in dam­ag­ing amounts of wa­ter.

It’s much eas­ier and cheaper to have a tile fixed than re­place trusses rot­ted through years of ne­glect. You can check your roof from the in­side, look­ing for chinks of day­light in the at­tic. Out­side, you might find that us­ing a pair of binoc­u­lars helps you get a clear view of po­ten­tial prob­lem points. Or call a rep­utable roofer to in­spect it for you.

Check for cracks in your walls and dam­aged point­ing. If wa­ter gets in and freezes, it will ex­pand and en­large the crack caus­ing fur­ther dam­age and damp. Fill with mor­tar or wa­ter­proof Poly­filla.

Look­ing af­ter wood win­dows is vi­tal. It’s a good idea to wash down the paint­work. This not only pro­longs the life of the fin­ish, it gives a good op­por­tu­nity to check for de­cay.

Veg­e­ta­tion grow­ing on or near a house needs mon­i­tor­ing. Cut back any low hang­ing branches that might cause dam­age in high winds.

In­side the prop­erty, en­sure that cold wa­ter tanks, pipes in the loft and un­heated spa­ces are lagged to pre­vent freez­ing. You can do this your­self by in­su­lat­ing the sides of the tank with an in­su­la­tion quilt. Don’t in­su­late un­der­neath as this area ben­e­fits from warm air ris­ing from the floor of the loft.

Have your boiler checked and ser­viced ready for the in­evitable cold snaps. One of the big­gest is­sues for home­own­ers is boil­ers break­ing down in freez­ing weather.

In­su­late and draught proof wher­ever pos­si­ble. The main cul­prits for draughts are doors, key­holes and win­dows. Key­hole and let­ter box cov­ers can be found at hard­ware and DIY stores and you can buy foam, plas­tic or metal stripe to make win­dow frames air­tight. .

If you don’t use your fire­place, your chim­ney is prob­a­bly a source of un­nec­es­sary draughts. You can fit a cap over the chim­ney pot or buy a chim­ney draught ex­cluder.

For more use­ful in­for­ma­tion visit the En­ergy Sav­ing Trust web­site on www. en­er­gysav­

Na­tional Main­te­nance Week starts on Novem­ber 22. For more tips from SPAB visit www. main­tainy­our­build­



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