11 November 2019
Top winter home maintenance tasks
With the approach of winter and colder temperatures, we want to make sure our homes are as safe and warm as possible. This is doubly true for those of us in older age as these harsher conditions can become dangerous. If you utilise stairlifts at home and know that some of the below tasks are going to be impossible for you to carry out, take a note of our suggestions as you can always enlist the help of friends and family. You can employ the services of a local handyman! So, read on to discover the winter home maintenance tasks you need to check off for a safe and cosy home.
What winter tasks should be done around the home?
Make sure your heating is working
Before the temperatures head towards freezing, it’s always a good idea to make sure your heating system is working. If you haven’t used it for a while, there’s a chance that something could have gone awry so, for example, go room to room and see if all the radiators are coming on.
If your radiators aren’t heating all the way to the top, you probably need to bleed your radiators. British Gas explains the process: “Simply use a radiator bleed key (about £1 in any DIY shop) to open the little valve at the top. You’ll hear air hiss and as soon as you see a drip of water, close it up again. Bingo. Energy-efficient radiators.”
Get your boiler serviced
A big part of staying warm is, of course, hot water. The last thing you want is to be without a nice hot shower when the winter chill hits. With this in mind, having your boiler serviced is vital – this should be done every 12 months. Jake from UK Home Improvements, a blog sharing top home improvements tips, told us why getting your boiler serviced should be top of your list: “The boiler is often neglected and unused during the spring and summer months and is then used constantly during the winter. This can often cause problems, as your boiler is going from 0-100% without getting the chance to warm up beforehand. So, get your boiler serviced early on, so you’re not without central heating throughout winter.”
You can also take our boiler cover for further peace of mind. Companies like 24/7 Home Rescue have various plans available that include unlimited call-outs, parts and labour, and a 24-hour UK helpline. The team at 24/7 Home Rescue says: “It’s hard to imagine suffering without heating or hot water in your own home over winter, so double-check that you have sufficient cover in place to protect your family (and your pocket) if anything was to happen.
Buy thick curtains and other helpful items
One task that doesn’t involve expert handyman skills is simply going on a shopping trip – or even popping online. Jake from UK Home Improvements advised picking up some of the following to make sure your home remains nice and toasty during the winter chill: “Buy thick curtains, blankets, rugs and draught excluders. All of these items will ensure heat is kept within the house. By doing this you will reduce the costs of your energy bills as you will be retaining the heat - so you can afford to turn it off every now and then.”
Have your chimney swept
There’s nothing better than getting cosy in front of a nice fire - something so many of us Brits love to do to stay warm over winter. But before you can even think about this, it’s important the chimney is swept. Since you last used it, debris could have become lodged down there, turning your chimney into a fire hazard, sending smoke into your home.
You can utilise the website Find Your Local Sweep to locate a registered chimney sweep in your area. The site is from the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps and their chairman Lawson Wright, spoke to us about how important it is that chimneys are swept before use over winter:
“Chimney sweeping is more important than most people realise, and the modern professional sweep will do much more than clean your chimney. Professional sweeps with make numerous small checks throughout the cleaning process, making sure appliances have been correctly installed and are in good order. They will alert the customer to any safety or remedial issues and can advise what needs to happen next. Professional sweeps will often be able to offer advice on appliance and fuel use which will save money and reduce unnecessary pollution.
“It is worth knowing that there is no legal requirement for a sweep to be trained or registered so it’s very important that they are a member of The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps.”
Lawson also described some of the specific dangers that can occur if you ignore this task: “The obvious danger of not sweeping the chimney is a chimney fire. Some older people may recall chimney fires as a relatively common occurrence that caused no harm, but a chimney fire can develop very quickly and is a serious danger. Always call the Fire Service if you suspect a chimney fire.
“An un-swept chimney can lead to soot and tar causing blockages. Blocked chimneys and flueways will prevent poisonous carbon monoxide gas from escaping up the chimney. Blocked chimneys can kill. It’s not just soot that can block a chimney, bird’s nests, damaged or corroded chimneys and even a build-up of cobwebs can cause a blockage. Professional sweeps will also check the room for a working carbon monoxide alarm and will often fit these if required.”
Check batteries in your smoke alarm
This next task is something that should be a regular check throughout the year but its particularly important for the winter period. With many of us enjoying fires at home, it’s important to check the batteries in your smoke alarms to ensure that if the worst should happen you will be alerted right away and can get to safety. Family Handyman, a DIY and home improvement website, says that “it’s best to have smoke alarms in every room of your home, including hallways. Be sure that home maintenance includes checking the batteries in all alarms once a month is always on your home maintenance checklist.”
Venture outside and improve your mental health
It can easy to become isolated in older age, especially when winter arrives, hindering our ability to get out and about. But it’s important to get outdoors when possible. Explaining how this is good for your health, Jake from UK Home Improvements says: “With little daylight hours and the bitterly cold breeze, we’re more likely to stay indoors at all times, but try to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. Natural sunlight and human contact can massively improve our wellbeing.”
Replace old windows
No one wants to be dealing with a draft in mid-January so take the time to inspect the windows in your home. If you discover some windows are nearing the end of their life, consider getting these replaced. If you want to get rid of those old single pane windows for something a little thicker, now would be a good time. A more temporary measure could be to use weather-stripping to seal up any gaps that are causing a draft.
Check the roof
This is certainly a task best left to a handyman, or at the very least an able family member. Before winter arrives in full force, check out the roof of your home for missing shingles or slates as these could ultimately result in leaks – not just from rain but melted snow. Even just removing debris with a rake is a smart move as things like leaves can hold moisture.
Clear your gutters
Along with roof checks, having your gutters cleaned out is also a task that should be checked off. All sorts of nuisance items can get stuck in there, including leaves and sticks. So, make sure that gutters are clear in order that water and melted snow can drain properly, with water then being directed away from the home to avoid leaks.
Make sure you have enough insulation
One of the key culprits for warmth escaping your home is a lack of insulation. So, ask someone to head up to your attic to inspect the insulation. You can then make the decision to add more if need be. You can do whatever you like to make your house warm with secure windows, fires, and heating systems but if your insulation is lacking it will all be for nought. This can even help you save money on heating costs.
Check if outdoor lights work
The winter months also mean shorter days so you will want to make sure your outdoor lights are working correctly to ensure your safety when entering and exiting your home. With icy patches also possible, it’s important that you have good visibility to prevent falls. If your lights are on a motion sensor, just do a quick check to see if all is well.
Tasks you should do at home to prepare for winter
- Make sure your heating is working
- Get your boiler serviced
- Have your chimney swept
- Check batteries in your smoke alarm
- Replace old windows
- Check the roof
- Make sure you have enough insulation
- Clear your gutters
- Check if outdoor lights work
If any of the above tasks are going to be too difficult for you to manage on your own because of limited mobility, make sure, as previously mentioned, to enlist the help of others. With a helping hand or two, you can soon relax in knowing your home is ready for whatever the coldest months have to offer.