I know it’s still only July and you just want to enjoy the sun, but now is the perfect time to prepare your house for winter. You probably despise the word “winter”, but when it comes to preparing for it things work like in the Aesopian myth about the cicada and the ant; unless you take action now, you’ll never be able to do it on time. So here are a few valuable tips on how to prepare your house for the winter – and reap the fruits of your labour when it’s freezing outside.
1. During the summer and autumn months leaves, twigs, debris and various small objects tend to clog the gutters and pipes around your house. Leaving them increases the risk of damage due to frost and can cause serious damage to your roof and walls. Clean and unblock all gutters and pipes and inspect again during September/October to make sure that they are not blocked again. The easiest way to check if the downspouts and guttering are clean, is to flush with a strong stream of water (you can use a hose).
2. Inspect drain grilles and clean out any debris and leaves; using drainage rods to remove any blockage.
3. Inspect thoroughly all pipes and gutters for visible cracks that can lead to leakages. Make sure that each gutter is firmly fixed against the wall. If you come across any cracks, repair them or replace the pipe in case the damage is non-repairable.
4. Insulate any exposed pipes wrapping them in insulating foam, since frost can cause serious damage to them and to your house. Use the same technique for pipes both on the house exterior and interior. When checking inside the house, don’t forget to check the pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks, in the kitchen cupboards as well as in the attic and the cellar.
5. Check your house peripherally for any cracks on the masonry and for loose or missing bricks; repair where necessary.
6. Taking all necessary precautions and safety measures, use a ladder to climb on your roof and clear it of any debris, twigs or leaves. Check for missing, cracked or loose tiles and replace any that are beyond repair.
7. Secure the TV aerials to stabilise them against extreme weather conditions.
8. At first, check your chimney externally to spot any bird nests, broken bricks or cracks that need repairing. Then inspect the fireplace and make sure that the chimney, all air pipes, the fireplace as well as any other heating appliances you may use are clean and well serviced (it’s better to let a professional clean your chimney), to obviate any danger of chimney fires or carbon monoxide intoxication.
9. Tidy up your garage/garden shed before storing the garden equipment and furniture. When the time comes protect them from dust and rust using nylon covers or some clean, old sheets.
10. Ensure that the garage/garden shed locks function properly and replace any broken or old ones.
11. Reposition the ice shovel and any ice breaking tools or rock salt closer to the garage door so that you have easy access to them when the time comes (because it will, eventually).
12. Clean the condensing unit of the air condition of leaves and debris, using a hose. Then protect it using a waterproof cover for the winter.
13. Service the boiler(s) or/and the water tank.
14. Run all necessary security checks; fill the fire extinguishers or replace the old ones with new and place them in the house, according to the safety instructions.
15. Replace the batteries in the smoke or/and carbon monoxide detection system.
16. Check the insulation in your attic; if you need to add more now is the time to do it!
17. Use door sweeps to prevent the heat from escaping the rooms. Add door sweeps to the exterior doors as well.
18. Apply draught-proofing strips to the main door and all the windows, between the sash and the window frame, to eliminate air leaks through them.
19. Aerify your radiators. Don’t forget to do it again before you turn them on for the first time in the autumn.
20. Act proactively and check what heating equipment you’ve got apart from the central heating; most of the times you don’t need to turn on the central heating for a while and you can heat up your house using smaller and more cost-efficient heating solutions.
21. If you have ceiling fans in your place, you can use the “reverse” switch to run their blades in the opposite direction during the winter, when the heating is on. This way an updraft is created and heat gets pushed downward into the room, instead of rising up to the ceiling.
22. Make the most of the dry weather and clean your carpets like a pro –all you have to do is hire a carpet cleaner!
23. Lay out the duvets and blankets in your garden to refresh them and wash the winter linens and sofa covers. Store in clothes’ bags. If you use thicker drapes during the winter season, now is the time to wash and iron them in order to have them ready for use in a few months.
24. Switch the mattress side that you sleep on and leave it with no sheets on for 8-10 hours.