Our homes can take a battering during the cold winter months. And because there aren’t many daylight hours, doing DIY work around the home often takes a back seat between October through to about March.
But if something goes wrong with your home during that time, you’ll have to take steps to either fix it yourself or pay someone to do the job for you (don’t hire a cowboy).
We all know prevention is better than cure, so I’ve put together a list of jobs you should consider doing in and around your home before the winter weather gets too harsh and causes damage.
Winter maintenance jobs outside the home
- Remove all debris and leaves from gutters, downspouts and grids. You want the rain, and the melting snow and ice to drain away as quickly as possible. Leaves and other debris will stop this from happening. While it isn’t a pleasant job, it’s one you should definitely do after tall the leaves have fallen from the trees.
- Check paving and driveways for cracks and repair as necessary to avoid frost and ice causing more damage. Rainwater gets into the smallest holes and won’t drain away or evaporate. If the weather gets too cold, the water freezes and expands causing paving and driveways to crack.
- Clean paving and driveways of leaves and moss to prevent slips and falls. Leaves and moss can trap water making already slippy paving stones even more slippy when wet. Clear mossy areas before winter sets in and remove leaves when they gather.
- Check fence panels and posts are in good condition and have been treated with a wood preserve. Untreated fence panels won’t last as long a treated ones. Consider treating your fence panels toward the end of summer and the start if autumn to protect them from the winter weather
- Repair any loose or missing pointing and rendering on walls as this will allow water in the joints which may cause more damage should it freeze. Similar to the point above, but this time the water will get into your home and may damage your property.
- Garden furniture should be cleaned and stored until the weather improves. This is especially the case with wooden furniture. Leaving it outside in the cold and wet won’t do it any good at all. Store it in a shed or garage and cover it with a tarp or plastic sheeting.
- Give all padlocks and locks on sheds, garages, gates etc, a spray of WD 40 or light oil to prevent them from seizing up. A simple and quick job that could save you a lot of time and hassle.
- Check all pipes have sufficient protection against cold weather to prevent them from freezing. Frozen pipes can cause a lot of damage because the pressure that builds up behind the icy section could eventually explode and cause the pipe to burst. Adding some cladding to vulnerable areas is cheap compared to repairing the damage a frozen pipes causes
- Check outside lighting is working correctly and clean if required. Dark nights and Christmas time are a burglar’s dream come true. Keep your outside lights burning brightly to put them off.
Winter maintenance jobs outside the home
- Check all draught proofing around windows and doors is in good condition. With energy prices going through the roof in recent years, you can save money by making sure you’re not losing heat through draughty windows and doors. If you’ve never draught proofed your windows or doors, the best time is now. And if you have draught proofed your windows and doors, check the condition of it see if any needs replacing.
- If you can afford to or have a maintenance contract, have the heating system serviced prior to the winter season. British Gas and other companies recommend an annual boiler service. You can book a one-off service or enter into an contract to have it done each year. Smart peeps might want to book the service during the summer months when engineers are less busy.
- Bleed the radiators around the home so they are working efficiently. Keep radiators working efficiently and your rooms warm by bleeding your radiators.
- Fit an electronic wall thermostat to control the room (s) temperature more accurately than the old bi-metal strip ones. Modern digital thermostats are controlled via an app on your phone. Typically, the’re not cheap but they could save you money in the long-term.
- Take precautions if you are using portable electric / calor gas heaters. Make sure they have sufficient clearance from surrounding surfaces and objects and adequate ventilation as may be required. Also make sure they’re in proper working order.
- Replace smoke alarm batteries and if you don’t have one install a carbon monoxide alarm. If you’re using battery operated smoke alarms, test each one to make sure they’re working. If they’re not, replace the batteries. If they’re still not working, replace the detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors save lives but they should be replaced every seven to ten years. If you don’t have one, get one. If you do have one, check it’s working by pressing the ‘test’ button. If you hear a high-pitched sound it’s working. If you don’t, replace the battery or get a new detector. Don’t take any chances – carbon monoxide is a silent killer. You can’t smell, taste or feel it (NHS).
- Show capable members of the family where to turn off the water and gas supplies in the event of an emergency. You never know when you might need switch off the water or gas supply, so check members of your family know what to do should something happen. If they don’t know, go through the process so they’re well-informed.
That’s it. There you have a quick round-up of some useful winter maintenance jobs for outside and inside your home.