How to maintain your home: Ensure you are doing your bit to reduce the risk of winter damage. 

Have you ever stopped and thought about how much your home means to you? Or the happy memories you’ve shared with your friends and family?  We all spend a lot of time in our homes so it’s important that we ensure they are properly maintained. Autumn is here, which means Christmas is looming and you’re likely to be spending a lot more time at home. You might be planning to have the family round for Christmas or you may have children who will be breaking up from school for the holidays! With this in mind, there’s no better time to make a start on some repair work, before the winter months set in. To get you started, we have come up with some tips to help you protect your home in the coming months.

Test smoke detectors

There’s no smoke without fire, so ensure your smoke detector is working to make sure you are safe rather than sorry. Ensure you test your batteries at least once a month by pressing the test/silence button on your alarm. It should make a beeping noise. If it doesn’t, then the chances are the batteries have run out. The Fire and Rescue service attended over 175,000 fires in the year ending June 2017 which was a 14% increase compared with the previous year! It’s therefore so important to ensure you have a smoke alarm fitted and regularly tested. If you don’t actually have a smoke detector then you can get these from many retailers both online and in store.

It may also be worth thinking about buying a Carbon Monoxide alarm too. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be caused by faulty gas fires, boilers and central heating systems, all of which you’re likely to use this winter! Like smoke detectors, they work in the same way. When a certain amount of carbon monoxide is detected in the air, an alarm is triggered.

Check quality of windows

If you’ve noticed a draft coming from one of your windows, there is a good chance there could be an air leak. This occurs when outside air enters your house and warm air from your heating leaves the house. Air leaks are uncontrollable if there’s cracks and openings around the home, and they can contribute to increased heating bills so it’s worth checking. Have a quick check of each window for the following.

Condensation 

Have you ever spotted water droplets on the inside of you window? This occurs when moist air comes in contact with a cold glass pane. The moisture condenses and forms water droplets. This can make your window ledge wet and is likely to make your room damp. To prevent condensation from occurring, keep your home well ventilated by often opening windows and keeping extractor fans on in the bathroom and kitchen. You can also look at buying a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in the air which can be caused by drying your clothes inside. This would reduce the amount of condensation on your windows.

Mould

If your windows aren’t cleaned regularly the chances of mould forming is high! This is the last thing you want especially when winter is approaching. Take time to assess what could be causing the mould. Are there plants nearby that could be transferring dirt and bacteria to your windows? Is the temperature of the room too high, often mould can be caused by direct heat, i.e a radiator underneath the window.

Boiler inspection

If you don’t have a fireplace, then you’ll most likely be wanting to put your heating back on. So with that in mind it’s probably best to get your boiler serviced if you haven’t already. Most boiler services inspect all the controls are working, check for any corrosion or leaks and ensure the gas pressure is at the right level. It’s an important part of your house especially in the colder months so it may be worth the call to your energy supplier for more information on getting your boiler checked.  

Clean the chimney

If you’ve got a chimney and it hasn’t been used in a while, why not get it cleaned and use your fireplace in the winter. Not only will it save you switching the heating on but it’s an instant method of heat. If you are going to use your fire, just check the condition of your chimney. Chimney fires are caused by a build-up of soot and wood tar. Sometimes the fire can warm up the debris in the chimney causing it to ignite. A chimney clean is quite a complex process and requires certain tools especially when a chimney flume is full of dirt. We therefore suggest getting a professional in to clean it for you. This way you know the job will be done to a good quality standard and will be safe for you to use your fire.

Check pavement for cracks

If you haven’t already used your de-icer, it won’t be long before you do. This means one thing… those dreaded icy mornings! You might not realise how dangerous your own drive can be, pre-existing cracks in your drive can fill with water and freeze over, forming a hazardous ice rink! There’s a simple and cost effective way to solve this problem. Simply fill the cracks with some filler that you can purchase from most DIY stores, to stop the water getting in and freezing over.

Clear the gutter

A blocked gutter is often caused by falling leaves in Autumn which can cause excess water to overflow and run down the side of your house. It can also cause your guttering to wear away and break if it’s having to deal with added pressure from the extra water. Have a look in your shed for a garden trowel or a tool that you can use to clear out the contents of your gutter. You’ll also need a bucket or bag to put the leaves and other unwanted contents in. Now the safety bit: you’re going to need a ladder if you want to get up and check your guttering. We would advise asking someone to help and watch over you as we wouldn’t want you to have an accident. Ensure the ladder is placed on a safe flat surface and check that the top of the ladder is leaning on a solid wall. Ask a friend to stand at the bottom of the ladder to prevent it from moving anywhere.

The roof

Your roof is one of the most exposed parts of your house so it’s important that its secured especially with the storm season in full swing. Now the last thing you’ll want to do is get up on the roof and investigate from a height, so either have a look from the ground or from the loft.  You’ll be able to see if there’s mould, loose material or even areas which could cause a leak. If you notice any damage, its best to call a specialist to come and repair the roof.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to us about your home insurance, please give our customer services team a call on 0344 412 2124. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 9am-9pm, Saturday 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm. 

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