As the nights draw in you might be tempted to close the door on the elements and hunker down until spring. But before you do, make sure your home is prepared for winter weather by following these few simple steps.
Frozen pipes are a common problem and the damage and disruption that a burst pipe can cause is well worth avoiding. The average insurance claim for a burst pipe is around £14,000, but you can reduce this to £1,500 by turning the water off at the main stopcock. So first of all, make sure you know the location of the stopcock – it is usually under the kitchen sink or close to where the rising main enters your home. Next, check the stopcock is not seized so it can be turned off quickly in an emergency. Prevention is better than cure, so lag pipes which may be exposed to cold temperatures.
If you have an oil or LPG fired boiler check that you have adequate heating fuel to last the Christmas period. Bad weather and the holiday season can lead to high demand which invariably means longer delivery times. Running out of fuel can cause an air lock, which means the boiler will not relight after the tank is filled, or it may let sediment from the bottom of the tank into the boiler with the same effect. If you have a biomass boiler, arrange a contract for pellets over the winter months so you have a constant supply.
Make arrangements to service your boiler and AGA or Rayburn to ensure they keep going until the spring rather than leaving you with an uncooked turkey on Christmas day.
The colder months can mean damp problems, particularly in older properties with poor insulation. Condensation may be exacerbated by drying clothes inside so use an extractor fan to remove excess moisture from kitchens and bathrooms.
Check your radiators are functioning properly. If they feel colder at the top than at the bottom, trapped air might be preventing heat from circulating correctly. Bleed the radiators to release the air and they will run more efficiently.
Remember that fitting loft insulation, secondary glazing and hot water cylinder jackets will not only keep your property warm, but also save you money. Under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, residential properties need a minimum Energy Performance rating of E or above to grant a new lease after 1 April 2018.
Having your chimney and flue swept annually to guard against chimney fires is a requirement of many insurers and often specified in tenancy agreements. You should certainly have this done before its first use in the autumn but bear in mind that this is a busy period for chimney sweeps, so book early and use a HETAS registered contractor. While it's always a good idea to have a carbon monoxide alarm, it's actually a legal requirement in rental properties where solid fuel is burnt.
Make sure that gutters are free from fallen leaves and debris.This prevents overflowing and water seeping down the walls which will damage the brick pointing and is a common cause of penetrating damp.
It is also worth cutting back branches close to your home and gutters to minimise leaf fall in the first place.