Autumn-proofing your home
Everyone’s heard of ‘Spring Cleaning’ but what about ‘Autumn Maintaining’? Anyone who watches the many property programmes on TV will know that now is the perfect time to make sure your home is ready for the seasonal wet and windy weather.
Let’s start at the top and work our way down…
Gutters - Autumn is a beautiful time of year but falling leaves can wreak havoc with outdoor gutters and downpipes. Rid them of debris, then pour a bucket of water down afterwards to make sure they’re clear.
Roof – are there any loose tiles? You might be able to identify some problems from ground level, if not, and you think there is likely to be a problem, why not get a specialist in to take a look; to avoid any potential injuries.
Drains - Check drains, lift covers and gratings to look for blockages and, if needed, use rods to remove any blockages. Take care while doing this and be sure to contact a professional if the blockage cannot be easily cleared. Also, drain and disconnect garden hoses from outside taps before storing them away.
Paintwork – is there any sign of cracking? If the paint of any exterior wood work is cracked or peeling, rain and frost can get into the wood and can cause rot. Similarly, if the exterior walls of your property are rendered and you notice it’s peeling or cracked this could be letting damp into your property; this is likely to be a job for a builder to ensure a good weatherproof finish.
Security - With the darker nights drawing in, it’s also useful to check your property is secure. Test burglar alarms, security lights and CCTV, if you have them, and ensure all entrances and gates to your property have robust locks.
The winter weather doesn’t just affect the outside of your property.
Pipes - Get your home ready for winter by using lagging to insulate pipes, which will prevent hot water pipes from losing their heat. While you’re at it, check your stopcock by turning it on and off again to prevent the tap from becoming stiff. If it is tough to turn, give it a spray with WD40 to loosen it up – you never know when you are going to need it in an emergency.
Draughts - Autumn is also a great time to identify and plug any draughts before it gets too chilly. According to the Energy Saving Trust full draught-proofing will save you on average £25 per year. If your house isn’t double glazed then weatherstripping tape is a good investment. Attach it between the frame and the moving parts of the window or door to stop air coming in. Weatherstripping tape can also be used to seal around unused loft hatches.
Don’t forget though, that your home also needs good ventilation, so it’s important to remember this when weather-stripping or sealing. Ventilation helps control moisture, which can lead to mould growth so the ideal is to reduce air leakage as much as possible and to provide controlled ventilation as needed to maintain indoor air quality.
Fireplaces - If you have an unused fireplace, get a builder to cap the chimney, to prevent heat loss and debris, and if you plan to use your fireplace, make sure your chimney has been swept recently to prevent chimney fires.
Has your boiler been serviced during the past 12 months? If not, now is the ideal time to get your boiler serviced. It’s better to know it’s safe and in good working order before you actually need to use it, if your boiler hasn’t been serviced in the past year, this may affect your ability to claim on your insurance if anything goes wrong.
As the weather starts to turn, give garden and outdoor cooking equipment like BBQs a thorough clean and make sure they’re dry, before stowing them away in a shed or garage.
If you’ve got a greenhouse or outbuilding, clear out old plants and pots and give it a general declutter ready for next year. Trim back bushes and trees and remove any dead branches that could potentially cause damage during a winter storm. If you’ve got outdoor plants in pots, raise them off the ground to prevent them getting waterlogged or damaged by frost.
Use a pressure washer to clear dirt and debris from the patio before the frosts set in, regularly sweep decking and driveways of fallen leaves to make sure these are less slippery during the darker autumn and winter months.
By taking some of the steps above you could save yourself the misery and inconvenience of your home being damaged by the great British weather this autumn.