The Checks And Upgrades Every Homeowner Needs To Make Before Winter

Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by HodgePodgeDays

Everyone who lives in the UK knows that the winter is always going to be unpredictable in what kind of weather happens when. What you can rely on is that at some point over the next six months, there will be some severe cold, some heavy rain, and a lot of anxiety about whether your home is going to be able to handle everything that the season throws at it. There’s been a lot of talk about extreme weather lately and for good reason. Preparing your home thoroughly for winter’s wrath reduces headaches and keeps you comfortable indoors despite the elements.

From inspecting systems to weatherproofing to emergency readiness, tackling key maintenance projects and upgrades ahead of the cold season pays dividends. Use this comprehensive winterisation checklist to protect your most valuable investment.

Inspect And Service The Boiler

Ensuring your boiler operates reliably provides crucial peace of mind heading into frigid temps. Schedule professional servicing to check boiler components and identify any signs of wear and tear or potential issues. Replace air filters and clear any obstructions around vents. Be sure combustible appliance connections are tightened and hoses are leak-free. Performing preventative boiler maintenance wards off failures when you need heat most.

Examine Fireplaces And Chimneys

Working fireplaces may be on the decline, but this step is really important if you have one. Remember that combustion heating sources require special attention pre-winter as well. Schedule a chimney sweep to remove built-up creosote if you use fireplaces or wood-burning stoves regularly. Confirm flues are open fully. Inspect for any cracks or damage to bricks and mortar that could allow heat loss or compromise safety. Repair minor issues immediately before they worsen. Proper fireplace and chimney upkeep reduces risk.

Upgrade Home Insulation

Energy bills are on everyone’s minds at the moment, and improving insulation represents one of the smartest investments for staying cosy. Evaluate whether exterior walls, attics, basements, and crawl spaces have sufficient insulation. Adding extra insulation provides better insulation. Likewise, examine seals around windows and doors for air leaks letting cold drafts in. Sealing gaps and adding weatherstripping pays off all winter long through warmer rooms and lower heating bills.

Little Changes That Make Your Home Super Eco-Friendly

Check The Condition Of Windows And Doors

Inspect the condition of windows and doors to identify any in need of replacement before temperatures drop. Drafty windows and doors cost a fortune in wasted energy. Pay particular attention to frames, seals, and hardware for wear. Repair or replace any window or door units with damaged or missing insulation. Your home stays more comfortable from room to room when doors and windows maintain maximum efficiency against cold winds.

Reverse Ceiling Fan Directions

If you have a ceiling fan, you might already be doing this, but a lot of homeowners forget this key tip – reversing the ceiling fan blade direction pushes warmer air down from ceilings instead of the cooler air pulled up in summer. Test the switch to be sure fans run smoothly in reverse. Adjust fan speeds as needed once cold weather hits. Don’t overlook this quick adjustment keeping you cosier without boosting your thermostat.

Examine Pipes And Water Systems

Take steps to protect exposed water lines and pipes from freezing and bursting. Insulate pipes in unheated areas like garages, basements, or crawl spaces for added protection. Check for pipe leaks or drips and repair any compromised sections promptly. Install updated washing machine hoses and valves too. Winterise irrigation and pool equipment. Vigilant water system inspections prevent costly damages.

Weatherstrip Doors, Windows And Ducts

Despite your best insulation efforts, small drafts still find their way indoors. Taking time to weatherstrip and caulk around doors, windows, vents, and electrical outlets seals up leaks for improved efficiency. Examine the area around exterior doors and windows carefully for gaps letting air pass through. Apply quality weatherstripping to keep cold air from infiltrating the home. Reducing drafts equals cosier indoor temps.

Have The Roof Inspected Before Snow And Ice

A roof inspection should be part of your regular home maintenance routine, but especially important before heavy snow and ice arrive. Look for cracked or missing shingles that could allow moisture penetration and leaks. Identify any damaged flashing, clogged gutters, or downspouts. Repair sagging areas prone to collapse under heavy snow weight. Address any roofing issues promptly to withstand winter precipitation beating down on your home. The last thing you want is to discover that you have a leak at the worst possible time.

Remove Or Prune Fragile Tree Limbs

We mentioned extreme weather earlier in the article, and it’s particularly important for this point. High winds, like we saw during Storm Agnes earlier in the year, can be dangerous if you have trees on your property. Carefully examine your trees and prune dead branches that look susceptible to snapping under mounds of snow or ice. Cut away limbs overhanging the home or other structures that will cause damage if they break. Eliminating precarious sections pre-emptively reduces risk to your home and vehicles when winter weather intensifies. It also protects nearby powerlines from falling branches triggering outages.

Examine Driveways And Walkways

Inspect the condition of asphalt and concrete on driveways and walkways around your property’s exterior. Look for cracks or crumbling that heavy snow and ice could exacerbate. Schedule repairs to damaged sections to prevent a huge replacement job come spring. Ensure downspouts direct rain and snowmelt away from paved areas too. Proactive maintenance saves on future headaches and expenses.

Does Your Boiler Need An Upgrade?

Among the essential systems to assess before winter is the boiler providing heating and hot water. If your current boiler is over 15 years old, upgrading to an energy-efficient model could pay dividends through lower bills and improved performance. Consider replacing old boilers if you observe:

  • Noisy, disruptive operation indicating wear
  • Rust spots signalling corrosion
  • Frequent breakdowns requiring repairs
  • High energy bills suggest inefficiency

Consult boiler experts on new systems sized appropriately for your home’s heated square footage. Look for gas boiler models with a great energy efficiency rating which typically save around 15% on costs over old boilers. Compare warranties too. If the cost is not in your current budget, revive an ageing boiler with a professional tune-up to limp through this winter before upgrading next year. Investing in an efficient boiler improves home comfort and savings. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this guide to getting a boiler installed from Boiler Central. They can help you find the perfect fit for your budget and your home.

Examine Fire Extinguishers and Smoke/CO Detectors

This is something that you want to be checking on a regular basis, regardless of what time of year it is. Check that fire extinguishers around the home remain adequately pressurised and functional in case of emergency. Test smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure the batteries still hold charge and alarms sound properly when triggered. Replace any faulty or expired fire safety devices. Make sure all residents know the escape plan in the event of a fire. Don’t gamble with your family’s safety – maintain life-saving equipment.

Schedule Annual Chimney Sweeping

Following on from the earlier point about taking a close look at your fireplace and wood-burning stove, it is definitely worth paying for someone to clean your chimney once a year. Creosote, a by-product of wood fires, builds up inside chimneys over time posing a fire risk. Hire a professional chimney sweep to remove debris and accumulated creosote using brushes and vacuums up the flue. They will also inspect for any needed masonry or cap repairs. Chimney cleaning protects your home by allowing smoke and gases to vent outside properly. Make sweeping an annual ritual.

Schedule Gutter Cleaning

If you’ve had a leak because of damaged gutters before, then you’ll know how serious this one is. Clogged gutters cause problems like ice dams leading to interior leaks and damage. Before heavy rain, snow and ice arrive, clear out leaves, debris and sediment build-up from gutters and downspouts. Use gutter guards to prevent future debris accumulation. Direct extensions away from the home’s foundation too. Routine gutter cleaning improves drainage and prevents overflows. Include downspout flushing as well. It’s so much better to address this issue before it does any real damage.


Insulate Basement Headers And Crawl Space Vents

Preventing cold from seeping into unfinished basement and crawl space areas helps moderate indoor temperatures. Examine crawl space vents and close off openings that are no longer needed for ventilation. Insulate basement header spaces around pipes, wires and ducts running to upper levels. Every weak spot allowing outdoor air entry makes floors noticeably chilly. Sealing gaps improves efficiency house-wide.

Test Appliances’ Ventilation Systems

Kitchen ranges, ovens and other appliances vent indoors require clear airflow to avoid carbon monoxide build-up. Remove grease or debris accumulations from hood filters and ductwork so gases properly exit outdoors. Have duct extensions checked for blockage. Ensure vents open fully when appliances run. Proper ventilation operation reduces the risks of dangerous gas accumulation in the home. It’s particularly important to do this during the winter when a lot of people do much more cooking with their oven. A roast dinner, for example, can lead to a lot of fat and grease spitting out, and you’ll already know how messy Christmas dinner can get!

Cover Exposed Pipes In Uninsulated Areas

Wrap insulation around exposed pipes in unfinished attics, basements, crawl spaces, garages, and outdoor hose bibs. Hardware stores sell pre-split foam tubes that slip easily over bare pipes. The extra insulation prevents freezing in sub-freezing temps. Consider heat tape or cables for outdoor pipes to maintain water flow all winter. Insulating vulnerable pipes now prevents burst disasters! You don’t want to have to rely on a friend so that your whole family can enjoy a hot shower!

Seal Air Leaks Around Electrical Outlets And Switches

Don’t overlook sneaky draft sources like electrical boxes on exterior walls. Cold winds find their way inside through small openings around receptacles and switches. Place weatherstripping pads behind cover plates to close these gaps. Ensure outdoor outlets are weather-resistant types and GFCI-protected. Sealing draft sources keeps living spaces more comfortable and efficient.

Clear Storage And Clutter From Attic Space

Attics should not be used for overflow storage, especially before winter. Boxes and clutter inhibit insulation performance and can compress it over time. Remove anything blocking insulation access so it can be topped up properly. Create more basement or garage storage space if needed. An unobstructed attic maintains the greatest insulation power and reduces energy costs. It’s also a good idea to do this before you need to get up there to retrieve those Christmas decorations! You might be surprised by just how much space you can clear up once you get started decluttering.

Test Water Supply Lines And Wells

If your home is reliant on a well, then the chances are that you’re already pretty well-versed in safe practices and maintenance. But the winter can bring a lot of additional stress. Regular water testing ensures bacteria or unsafe contaminant levels are not present before constant indoor use during winter. Have samples analysed for any problems like E. coli or metals. Disinfect and flush well components if issues are found. For city water lines, check for leaks around your home’s main shutoff and under sinks that could worsen when freezing temps arrive.

Schedule Annual Septic Tank Pumping

If your home relies on a septic tank, make sure it undergoes routine maintenance before winter’s heavy utility usage. Have the tank professionally pumped, which clears out sludge build-up. A full, clogged tank can back up wastewater into the home – a disgusting mess! Experts advise pumping every 3-5 years normally. Address any drained field issues too before problems arise during peak use this winter.

Don’t put off essential property preparations ahead of cold weather threats. Before systems are taxed in freezing temps, addressing improvements and upgrades now provides true peace of mind and preparedness. Your future self will thank you!

This is a contributed post.

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