Winter home maintenance tips

Posted on August 25, 2016 by Guest Writer
Winter home maintenance

With the weather having turned particularly chilly and wet recently, we thought now would be a good time to share our essential tips for keeping your home warm and dry this winter.

1. Keep your home warm

Keeping your central heating on at a minimum temperature of 15°C is a wise precaution, even when you’re not at home. This is particularly important if there is a possibility that the temperature outside can drop below freezing.

While running your heating system constantly could seem quite expensive, there’s a lot you can do to keep this cost down.

First and foremost, insulating your loft space and wall cavities is a must – according to the Energy Saving Trust, this could save you up to £240 a year on your energy bills as around a quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof. It’s equally easy to lose warmth through your window frames so close your blinds and curtains in the evenings to trap the heat.

Lining the area behind radiators with kitchen foil will reflect the heat given off back into each room, rather than it being lost through the wall.

Bleeding your radiators is also good practice as trapped air can prevent heat from circulating properly.

2. Check the exterior of your house

Problems with the exterior of your house can lead to water running down the side of your house and penetrating damp – in both cases, prevention is a much better practice than cure.

Clearing your guttering and drains of fallen leaves and anything else that has found its way into them to will help avoid blockages and overflowing water. It also important to make sure that everything is aligned and that the outlets face away from your property.

Checking your roof for any damaged or missing tiles as well as worn concrete and caulking is a good idea throughout the year but it’s even more important in the months running up to winter.

It’s also worth having your chimney swept to lower the risk of a fire and checking the lead flashings around your chimney to make sure they are in good shape.

3. Take care of your water pipes

Check the lagging insulation around your loft, around your water pipes and cold water storage tank. Pipes in lofts, eaves and behind cupboards are particularly vulnerable as they are typically more exposed and prone to freezing. Loft insulation should be laid over and under pipes.

You can use a salt and water mix to unblock any troublesome drains and pipes which will help prevent ice forming and bursting them.

Keep your eye out for leaks when the temperature starts to rise as burst pipes often occur when they thaw.

What to do if you find a frozen pipe?

  • Find your mains water stop-cock valve and turn it off immediately.
  • Turn on all cold water taps to drain the system. NEVER turn on the hot taps. Your hot water cylinder may collapse if the pipes leading to it are frozen.
  • Never attempt to thaw out frozen pipes by turning your immersion heater or central heating boiler on.
  • Check for leaking joints or bursts in the pipes and gently heat any frozen pipes with a hairdryer or a heated cloth wrapped around the pipe. NEVER apply a direct flame to the pipe.

4. Not at home?

If you are away from home, leaving kitchen cupboards and bathroom cabinet doors open will allow warm air to reach hidden pipes. Leaving the loft hatch open will also aid with circulating air around as much of your house as possible.

If you are going to be away for a long period of time and the weather forecast predicts cold weather, it is a good idea to drain your water system completely. This involves draining the water from your cold and hot water storage tanks, as well as your radiators and central heating pipes. This will avoid any possibility of burst water pipes due to the cold.

5. Find your mains water stop-cock

Being able to turn off your water in an emergency is vital to reducing the damage a burst pipe may have on your home. Locate your stop-cock the moment you move in and check that it is easily accessible should you need to turn it off.

Have you covered every home maintenance eventuality? Is your home insured? Talk to our insurance specialists 0333 014 4513 today.

Winter home maintenance tips