Here in the UK, long range weather forecasters have advised people to prepare for heavy and persistent snow for up to three months, with winter 2013 set to be the worst in more than 60 years.
So now is a good time for homeowners to check their properties to help stop the predicted harsh weather from taking its toll on their home, along with their heating and maintenance bills. Here’s our Winter property management guide.
Properties are vulnerable to attack both from the outside elements and the moist, warm conditions that build-up inside during the winter months, so why not make use of the ideal opportunity to prepare.
The outside of a house takes a battering in the winter so a realistic and in depth assessment of its current condition is advisable – think roof, walls, floors, windows and doors and repair, seal or insulate where possible.
However, letting a property breathe the warm air out is as important as stopping the cold air from coming in. Today’s lifestyle of showers, washing up, periodic short bouts of heating throughout the day and a lack of ventilation can lead to a build-up of what amounts to litres of water daily that forms condensation and damp on window sills, furniture and walls.
This problem can be prevented by simply opening your windows every now and then and letting some fresh air in. Alas security and ventilation are conflicting requirements, so make sure you shut them again before leaving home.
Below is some simple but useful advice in our winter property checklist :-
- 33% of heat lost in the home is through the walls. Cavity wall insulation is a good option and can boost its value and saleability while reducing your energy bills. (Note: there are funding schemes that may help you pay for this if you haven’t got it installed)
- Check the pointing – frost and snow can play havoc with poorly maintained walls.
- Consider fitting reflective foil behind radiators on outside walls.
- Make sure water can run off the building; fill gaps to cement angle fillets at wall junctions.
- Inspect the roof and replace any cracked or damaged tiles.
- If chimney pots are in place but not in-use consider protecting them by fitting ventilated cowls.
- Check the insulation is in good condition (and up to current standards – and at least 270mm thick for mineral wool)
- However avoid over insulating. It is important that the tanks and pipes in the loft do not freeze, so do not insulate below the tank.
- Make sure the lid is securely on the cold-water tank.
Gutters and drains
- Overflowing gutters can drench walls and cause damage
- Clear them of leaves and debris. Take particular care that the gulleys are completely clear.
- Insulate external drain pipes (e.g. those for central heating) with waterproof tape or a similar material.
- In very cold weather water on paving will freeze – this can turn them into an ice-rink, making them lethal under foot. Therefore ensure the paving is well drained and avoid water collecting, freezing and causing avoidable accidents.
- Check perimeters of all windows to make sure water flows away from glass and doesn’t collect on the sill, or even drain behind it.
- It is important to minimize draughts. If double-glazing is not in place (it cuts heat loss through windows by 50 percent), consider fitting cheaper options such as secondary glazing or even put polythene sheeting across the window frames.
- Curtains can make a big difference to heat loss. Consider thermally insulated curtains for windows and the outside doors.
- Stop draughts through letterboxes by fitting a cover and put a sealant around the door frames.
- Fill the gaps between exposed floor boards.
- If there are stripped floors in place consider putting down rugs in the winter to reduce draughts up between the boards.
- Ensure central heating pipework in the ventilated floor voids is insulated (a staggering 70% of the heat input may be lost if un-insulated!!).
- Fit chimney balloons in open flues.
- Have wood and coal burning flues swept (this should be done at least once a year).
- Have your boiler serviced – a healthy boiler is more reliable and cheaper to run.
- If you have a condensing boiler, insulate the external condensate and ensure it is of the correct bore.
- Consider fitting a trace heater to prevent the boiler from freezing.
And finally, check your heating system is in full working order – insulate hot water tanks, and bleed your radiators.
While many of these simple tasks can be undertaken safely in the home it is important that people seek the advice of reputable professionals when looking to complete larger jobs.
If you have any doubts please contact us for advice or support.