How to Protect Your Home from the Winter Weather
December 4, 2012
Winter, when temperatures fall and may stay low for weeks on end, is the time when houses are most likely to suffer damage from the weather. However, there are some actions that homeowners can take to reduce the chance of problems arising.
Gutters are most likely to get blocked with leaves and moss in the autumn and should be cleared out before the cold weather arrives. In winter, the build-up of leaves may cause rain to leak from the gutter, resulting in the house's walls becoming damp and maybe penetrating damp soaking through to the inside of the house. At the same time, keep gullies clear of leaves to ensure that surface water can flow freely into the drains. This is especially important when there is heavy rain.
Pipes and Leaks
One of the most common problems of cold winter weather is blocked and frozen pipes. Pipes in unheated areas are vulnerable unless they are lagged and particular attention should be paid to pipes in garages and cellars. An attic should have sufficient insulation, with any water pipes running beneath the insulation. If the house is left empty for a time the heating needs to be left switched on for a period each day to stop the temperature falling too low. Internal doors left open will allow the warm air to circulate round the house and if pipes run behind cabinets the cabinet doors should also be left open.
Any outside pipes should be lagged, with the stop tap to outside taps switched off. Leaks and dripping taps should be repaired. A leaking overflow pipe with water falling onto a path, even with only a small drip, may lead to a dangerous icy patch when the temperatures fall below freezing.
Any damage to wooden windows and doors, including frames, should be repaired as this will only get worse due to low temperatures and driving rain. It is also advisable to repair loose or perished pointing in walls. If not, water getting into the cracks will freeze and expand, causing further damage. The roof should be checked for any missing or slipped slates or tiles as they will allow water into the house. You can use a pair of binoculars to get a clear view of the roof.
Keeping the House Warm
Boilers need regular checks and winter is the time when they are most likely to develop problems. Central-heating failure when there's snow on the ground is difficult to deal with. If heating is provided by an open fire or wood-burning stove, then the chimney needs to be cleaned regularly and doing this before the winter starts is a good idea. Ensure that there is sufficient wood or other fuel to last for a few weeks at least.
Repairing damage or dealing with breakdowns can be costly. Insurance or breakdown cover policies need to be adequate to deal with such expenses, so check out MoneySupermarket.com for advice on choosing insurance.
All it takes to protect a house from winter weather is a bit of preparation and planning. Much of what needs to be done is inexpensive but the potential cost of damage could be considerable and it's always cheaper to sort out minor problems before the problem gets too severe.
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