As we move towards the end of the summer of 2012 and the cold weather begins to take hold it's wise to consider the ways we can prepare our properties.
Having already suffered a wet and dreary season, chances are you’ve already had a taste of what the cold and damp could do to your home, so before the winter really kicks in, now’s the time to make sure you’re fully prepared to avoid the worst that the weather might throw at you.
Check your heating system
With the weather still generally warm – in spite of the rain – inspecting your boiler might be the last thing on your mind. However, it’s far better to deal with any potential issues in advance, rather than being caught out when the temperature really starts to drop. You should turn your heating system on for a few minutes every six weeks or so to ensure everything is in working order. If you have a boiler with a visible flame, it should be blue and strong. If it’s orange, flickering or appears to be drooping you should switch it off and contact your gas company immediately.
Make sure that all your radiators are working properly, as long periods of inactivity can cause them to rust or block, so they might need to be drained. You should also check that your lagging and insulation is in good condition. If you haven’t installed proper insulation, now is a good time to invest, as it can save you a considerable amount of money in the long term, as well as helping you to reduce your carbon footprint.
Clear your gutters
learing your gutters is one of those jobs that we’d all rather not have to do, but it’s far easier and less time consuming to get it out of the way while the weather is mild. During the winter, debris and trapped water can freeze to create ‘ice dams’ which are difficult to remove and can cause major blockages. Starting the season with completely clear gutters makes this problem much less likely to occur.
Identify potential structural problems
Ice, damp and sudden changes in external temperature can all cause major structural damage, particularly if you go into winter with pre-existing damage to your home. The heavy rain this summer may well have caused some damage to your roofline area, so consider getting it checked. If you have an attic, take a look around to ensure that no damp or leakages have gone un-noticed. The cost of addressing these problems can be off-putting, but if left to linger they can develop into more serious (and expensive) issues. Don’t forget, if you have home insurance you may be covered for repairs to structural damage, so check your policy before you fork out.
Draught-proof your home
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if every home in the UK was properly draught proofed, we’d save £190 million per year, and enough energy to heat nearly 400,000 homes. Warmth lost through draught weak-spots forces us to rely more heavily on our heating systems, burning more energy and ramping up our bills. Common draught areas include old or damaged windows, doors, ceiling-to-wall joints and suspended floorboards. Draught proofing can be a case of simple DIY, such as blocking any gaps that have appeared. However, more serious cases – particularly in older properties – may require the work of a professional draught excluder.
RIAS is a specialised over 50s insurance provider. In2012 they were listed as a Recommended Home Insurance Provider by Which? Magazine for the third year running. They also carry a 5-star rating from independent financial research company defaqto.