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Home maintenance jobs for winter

Date posted: 20 October 2015

With the arrival of autumn and the prospect of colder weather on its way, there are some important annual maintenance tasks and seasonal jobs to get done around the house and garden.

Looking after you property

Some experts suggest making a list with a “top down” approach, from the roof to the ground.

  • Are any roof tiles loose? Where there are major roofing issues developing you may well be able to spot them from the ground, or you may have found a fallen tile and therefore know you have some missing. Since falls from ladders can cause serious or even fatal injuries, it is always best to call in an expert with suitable access equipment to take a proper look at your roof if you suspect problems. Bear in mind that carrying out maintenance or improvement work yourself can sometimes prove to be false economy – since the quality of the work may be poor, and have an impact on the overall value of your property.
  • Is the guttering in good order? Take a look at your guttering to check for blockages, signs of damage, and moss or algae problems (which often indicate that there is water leaking from the guttering). A build up of leaves and other debris will cause a blockage that needs to be cleared in order for the guttering to do its job. You can carry out a straightforward guttering check by pouring a large jug of water down it and ensuring there are no blockages. You will need to use a ladder to do this, so always make sure you have someone else with you and follow safety guidance for the use of ladders – such as checking it is standing on firm ground, and securing it if possible to the building. It is a good idea to completely replace any damaged or rusted cast-iron guttering with new guttering made from modern materials.
  • Is the paintwork intact? Check all painted woodwork for cracks in the paint, which can let in rain and frost, damaging the wood work by causing rot. If your home's exterior is painted check that is also in good order as the rainier winter months will not be ideal for repainting work.
  • Are windows and doors draught-free, and closing properly? Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy as well as money in your home. It is well worth the effort to check that all your windows and doors fit snugly, and that there are therefore no draughts getting through which will increase your heating bills. You can find out more about draught-proofing your home from the Energy Saving Trust, which says it could save you £25-£50 per year if you draught-proof around windows and doors.
  • Has your boiler been serviced in the past 12 months? You are unlikely to have used your boiler as much over the summer, but it is best to get it serviced before the weather turns cold and you really need it. This ensures the boiler is safe and is working efficiently.

Looking after your garden

  • Are your outdoor lights working? You will increasingly find you need outdoor lighting as the days shorten. Check existing lights and bulbs are working, and consider getting a qualified electrician in to fit some if you lack good exterior lighting at the front or rear of your property.
  • Are garden patios, paths or driveways damaged? If you find cracks in concrete surfaces, for example, harsh weather conditions could make these far worse – so it is best to fix them up before winter sets in.
  • Is there stagnant water sitting on the patio? Brush it away regularly so that it does not encourage the growth of algae or moss infestations.
  • Are there any algae or moss problems on your garden patio, driveway or pathways? These can create a slip hazard during the wetter winter months, so it is important to get rid of them – either by using a pressure washer (which you can rent from tool hire companies at reasonable rates) or by buying special moss or algae remover from your local garden centre.
  • Is your barbecue and garden equipment being protected from the elements? Give your outdoor equipment a thorough clean and then store it away for the winter, preferably in a garage or shed.

Do it yourself, or hire a professional?

Most of these checks and maintenance tasks are straightforward and as a result many householders choose to tackle them themselves – but, if you do need help, always choose your professional carefully, whether it's a reputable builder who is a member of the Federation of Master Builders, a boiler engineer listed on the Gas Safe Register.

When choosing a builder, remember to:

  • Ask family and friends if they can recommend a builder they have used recently. Then check they are included on the FMB's ' Find a builder' site. Ask for references or to speak to former customers.
  • Be very specific about your requirements when asking for a quote – preparing an in-depth brief that states clearly what you want.
  • Obtain at least three quotes before making a decision. Don't automatically choose the cheapest – consider work quality, good communication skills, and so forth.
  • Make sure you get a contract with the builder. There are free contracts available to download on the FMB's website.
  • Agree a reasonable payment plan in instalments. Do not pay the total cost of the project up front. Try to use a credit card for payments to offer greater protection.

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