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Preparing For Winter

 - Your Home Can Provide The Clues
If your windows have been rattling this summer, check them out and make sure they are fixed so don’t fall out.

Peeling paintwork could be an indication of rotting wood underneath, crumbling brickwork may need urgent attention and dislodged roof tiles can cause untold damage if not replaced before winter arrives.

It pays to inspect your home for clues to trouble spots on a regular basis and whether the house is new or old. If problems such as damp are caught early significant savings can be made.

Stains on walls, plant growth or moss around pipes and gutters are clues that your gutter or pipes may be leaking. Check that drains and gullies are carrying away water effectively. It’s also worth checking the security of fixings and joinings. A few minutes spent clearing weeds and debris, or just a few pounds spent to mend a leaky gutter can save many hundreds, and possibly thousands of pounds. It may be worth cutting any tree branches that are shedding leaves into your guttering.

It’s worth remembering to deal only with reputable tradesmen. Check out the references of anyone you are considering employing and do not make snap decisions on builders who cold call at your door whether it’s for routine maintenance or emergency work on your house. Sudden bad weather often brings out the cowboy tradesmen keen to make a quick buck at the expense of vulnerable customers.

Main problem areas include:

• ROOFS – Get your builder to fix loose or replace missing slates or tiles before water causes serious structural damage. Moss should also be removed as it is a retainer of damp.

• VALLEYS, FLAT ROOFS, CHIMNEYS AND JUNCTIONS – Get your builder to check for damage to these areas. Damage may not be obvious but can cause internal damp.

• WALLS – Avoid earth build-up at the base of walls as this could be the site of a damp problem. Keep underfloor ventilators clear. Ground level garden plants should be removed if damaging walls or blocking drains.

If mortar joints are loose, crumbling or missing, get your builder to fix them. If damp is already getting in but the pointing looks fine, get your builder to check the joint and the lead flashing where the roof tiles meet the brickwork, which is a common place for water to enter.

• WATER PIPES - Ensure water pipes are properly lagged, particularly in older properties, especially in the loft. If you are going away keep the heating on low for a couple of hours during the night to avoid burst pipes.

• WINDOWS AND EXTERNAL DOORS - Make sure windows and external doors close properly. Fitting inexpensive draught excluders can really help to reduce your heating bills.

• VENTILATION - Check your ventilation - especially bricks that allow air to circulate below the floorboards. Use a coat hangar or screw driver to clear out the holes that can get blocked with leaves and other garden or road debris

• REPAINT EXTERIOR PAINTWORK - Exposed walls and windowsills need particular attention as they bear the brunt of frost damage.

• SERVICE YOUR BOILER – Get gas boilers checked by a Corgi registered heating engineer.

• FLOODING - It’s worth knowing whether you are in an area which is prone to flooding. Check the Environment Agency website on or call the floodline for advice on how to protect your property from flooding and what to do if you are affected is 0845 988 1188.

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