Winter home preparation: Getting your home ready for winter

November 29, 2019

Despite a temperate climate, the UK still sees its fair share of harsh weather during the winter months – and this means it’s vital to prepare your home well ahead of the upcoming cold snap to avoid any unwanted issues that can arise when the bad weather arrives. However, it’s difficult to know precisely how to prepare for all weather eventualities.

Fear not – in this blog post we’ll be covering the 7 top tips to help prepare your home for winter so that you can stay ahead of the bad weather. From frozen pipes and cold draughts to leaky roofs and poor insulation, you’ll find help and advice on what you should be doing to keep your home warm, safe and dry this winter.

1. Service your boiler & heating systems

With temperatures already dropping, it’s likely your heating system has already been cranked up to keep your winter home toasty – but it still pays to get it serviced before the weather gets any worse. This will ensure your heating is working at optimum efficiency, as well as flagging any minor problems that could cause a boiler breakdown.

To keep your boiler in prime condition, prevention is always more cost-effective than a cure. Some vital tips to consider are lagging your pipes and keeping the pressure up – as boilers don’t work efficiently when the pressure is too low. While it’s advisory to look after your boiler, not all issues can be prevented. So, giving your boiler a regular service is likely to make it last longer and work with greater efficiency. If you’re in search of a reliable tradesman, search Checkatrade for a specialist service.

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2. Check your radiators

Checking your heating system is also an excellent time to test your radiators to make sure there isn’t any air in the pipes that could affect the temperature. If you do find air pockets, it’s a simple fix for yourself or a plumber and can make a massive difference to the effectiveness of your heating.

When the heating system is on full, feel each radiator for cold spots, then use a radiator key to open up the air valve on the side to release the air. Afterwards, you’ll instantly feel the difference in warmth, something you’ll be thankful for as we head into the colder months ahead!

3. Check your insulation

We lose a surprising amount of heat in our homes through windows, doors and roofs, so taking the time to add some extra insulation to these areas could improve the heat efficiency of your home – and also cut costs on your energy bills!

From additional roofing insulation to thermal curtains and blinds, insulating areas where the most heat is lost will work wonders when it comes to getting ready for winter. You may also want to consider insulating your rooms with underfloor heating, too. Whether your house has floor tiles or wooden planks, underfloor heating provides an extra layer of insulation, as well as an energy-efficient heating system.

Some tell-tale signs which show that your home is under-insulated include fluctuating temperatures, very high energy bills, cold rooms and chilly drafts. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s more than likely that your home doesn’t have enough insulation, mainly if you live in an older home.

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4. Prepare your plumbing

Frozen pipes can wreak havoc in homes – not only because you’ll be without water until they thaw, but the ice can also cause the pipes to burst as it expands inside, leading to extortionately priced repairs.

The key here is to minimise the chances of your pipes freezing – shut off and insulate outdoor taps and pipes with external pipe lagging that snugly fits around the pipe itself, leaving a trickle of water running on taps with an unheated supply. If you do have any pre-existing leaks, you must fix them before the winter months begin. You may even want to drain the system entirely if you’re heading away from your home for an extended period over winter – any water left in your pipes will cause bursting and drastic damage, mainly if nobody is home.

If you need to know how to unfreeze pipes, you should start by turning the tap on slightly, so water can flow freely as the ice thaws. Next, starting nearest to the tap, apply some heat to the pipes as soon as possible working your way back to the blockage – speed is of the essence here to prevent the pipes bursting. Using a hairdryer, fan heater or heated towels on the pipes, you can gradually melt the ice inside. If the pipe has burst, shut off the water supply immediately to stop the flow and seek some professional plumbing help to repair or replace the pipework.

5. Tackle cold draughts

Houses inevitably get draughts from time to time, especially in older properties. A pre-winter check of windows and doors will help tackle issues head-on – after all, when the weather is freezing outside, it’s essential that your winter home is a warm sanctuary.

For a quick remedy, try weatherstripping tape which will make windows and doors less draughty while they’re waiting for repair. Particularly in older homes, filling the gaps in the floorboards is one way to reduce draughts significantly. However, for a long-term fix, it’s most efficient to replace flooring with large, high-quality floor tiles which will help to insulate the home without compromising on the design aesthetic.

Whether you opt for replacing problem windows or doors or try DIY fixes like insulation strips, draught-excluders or re-caulking, you’ll find fewer draughts lead to a cosier home and a smaller energy bill, making this a great way to prepare for winter.

6. Clear your guttering

Dead leaves, moss and debris can get clogged up in your guttering and drains, which causes water to get backed up. Not only that, they can lead to your roof rotting and even foundation damage due to excess water. While gutter maintenance is often at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list (or worse even forgotten about), cleaning your gutter could be the key to avoiding an expensive and inconvenient repair.

So, ahead of winter, we’d recommend you clear gutters and drains and repair any damaged pipework to ensure excess water is efficiently drained away from your property. If this isn’t a job you fancy tackling yourself, finding a reputable gutter cleaning service company could be money well spent. To make your repairs more manageable in the future, you could even look into installing gutter and drain guards to reduce the amount of debris building up in the first place.

7. Repair roof issues

Whether it’s loose tiles, damaged lead flashing or rotting support beams, as your first line of defence against the elements, it pays to tackle roof issues right away when preparing for winter.

With heavy rainfall and freezing temperatures, a little problem can soon become a bigger and more expensive one – so, ensuring your roof is fully weatherproofed will help you avoid any unwanted leaks and prevent any water damage. You must carry out full-scale inspections on the roof and gutters for tell-tale signs such as icicles forming or materials clogging so that you can organise maintenance before it’s too late.

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British weather is temperamental at the best of times, but with this guide, you’ll have everything you need to prepare your home for winter with a strong defence that can withstand the elements all winter long.

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