If you haven’t got your home ready for winter yet, there is still time to do some maintenance to protect your home from the freezing conditions predicted from late December.
Ice, snow, and wind can all cause damage, but if you are prepared, by taking steps to minimize possible damage, you won’t face the possible prospect of dealing with winter-related disasters. Apart from anything else, if maintenance is found to be lacking, there’s a good chance that any insurance claims you make will be rejected.
Maintenance Tips for the Outside of Your Home
Essential winter-proofing maintenance includes cleaning and clearing gutters, trimming dead branches from trees, repairing damaged steps and handrails, sealing holes and cracks in foundations and walls, and coating manufactured stone surfaces to protect them from the elements.
- Clean gutters It is really important to ensure all gutters are clean and not blocked with sticks, dead leaves, and other wind-borne debris. If not, rain, and melting ice and snow will dam up because the water has nowhere to drain away. This can cause water to seep into the house and damage walls and ceilings. You might also consider fitting gutter guards to stop debris getting into the gutters in the first place. Ultimately, you need to make sure that water runs freely through gutters and downpipes.
- Trim trees This is not the time to be landscaping, but if there are dead branches or trees that could break in strong winds, cut them off or trim them back. If they do break, they could damage vehicles, walls, your home itself, or even hurt people who may be on our near your property.
- Repair steps and rails If any part of a stairway is broken or showing signs of rot it must be repaired. You don’t want people falling and risking injury. Remember too that in any case, ice and water make steps more treacherous so it’s important to make them as safe as possible.
- Seal holes and cracks Check all exterior walls and visible parts of foundation footings for cracks. If you find damage, fix it or call in a contractor to do it for you. Also check around skylights and other openings in the roof (if there are any) and seal these too. Protect exterior water pipes with caulking. Also check roof tiles because if these are broken or missing, you’re asking for water damage to occur during winter storms.
- Protect manufactured stone, brick and stucco surfaces A good quality concrete and masonry sealer like Natural Shield from Native Custom Stone should be used to protect natural and manufactured stone surfaces as well as pavers, stucco, and any exterior brickwork. Natural Shield is ideal for achieving the level of water repellency required to prevent freeze and thaw damage, as well as to reduce the risks of unwanted stains, cracking, biological growth, chalky efflorescence and any form of chemical degradation. So seal now to prevent water from penetrating your home this winter.
Maintenance Tips for the Inside of Your Home
You want to be warm throughout winter, no matter how cold it gets outside. There are several maintenance tips for achieving a warm interior, ranging from servicing your heating system to ensuring there is adequate insulation, not only in the house itself, but in basements, attics, lofts and crawl spaces as well. Other elements to consider include pipes and plumbing, as well as fire and smoke alarms.
- Keep the interior of your home warm If you haven’t had the heating system in your home serviced recently, do it now. As a rule of thumb, these systems should be serviced at least once a year to prevent smoke or fire damage. Boilers should also be serviced, and if radiators are colder at the top they usually need bleeding, which releases any trapped air. Also make sure that thermostats are set at 65 °F (about 18 °C) to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Add insulation A properly insulated house will help to reduce heat loss in winter, not only keeping you warm, but also conserving energy and in this way cutting bills. This includes walls, ceilings, water tanks and pipes. Well-insulated crawl spaces and basements will also keep pipes from freezing when temperatures drop dramatically. Also be sure that there is adequate insulation in the loft or attic roof (if there is one) because heat from an inadequately insulated attic often causes ice and snow to melt. Then if it re-freezes this could add to a build-up that might eventually cause the roof to collapse. Rather be safe than sorry and spend a bit on additional insulation.
- Pipes and plumbing Check pipes for cracks and leaks and fix them or call in a qualified plumber to do it for you. Also make sure you know where all pipes are located and where to shut off the water if the pipes do freeze. If you don’t you might end up with burst pipes. Consider installing an emergency pressure release valve as a precaution against the damage an increase in pressure can have if pipes freeze.
- Smoke and fire alarms Check that these are working properly. If they aren’t, have them repaired as a matter or urgency. It is also a good idea to install a carbon dioxide detector because a well-sealed home has the potential to trap toxic gas from fires.
Forewarned is forearmed, so do yourself a favor and do some basic maintenance both inside and outside before it’s too late.