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Getting Your Home Winter Ready

Published: 22/12/2021 By Lucy Wolstenholme

The evenings are drawing in and the temperature is dropping so now is the time you want to be warm and cosy. You don't want to be worrying about your home letting you down. Listed below are some of the things you might like to check to give you peace of mind this winter.

Looking after your boiler
Cold weather can be a risk to your health, particularly to the elderly and those with health conditions. Getting your boiler serviced by a Gas Safe Registered engineer, ideally once a year, is advised. Winter is not the season you want to be without heat or hot water!

Other steps you can take to keep your heating system in tip top condition include bleeding your radiators and covering pipes with heat insulating material.

Bleeding your radiators
Bleeding your radiators will help keep your home warm and cosy. By letting the air out, it will enable the whole radiator to fill with water and warm your property. A sign that the radiators need bleeding is if they are warm at the bottom but cold at the top. You can bleed a radiator using a radiator bleed key. Insert it into the radiator bleed valve illustrated in the accompanying photo. A good tip is to have a container ready to catch any water that may come out!

Insulating your pipes
In winter, cold weather could cause your pipes to freeze. The pressure then builds up and causes the pipes to crack and burst. When the temperature rises, and the water melts you then have a water leak that could turn into a flooded home.
There are two main benefits of insulating pipes - you'll keep the heat in which saves you money, but it also means you will be reducing the risk of frozen pipes which can burst, causing flooding, damage and could leave your home without water. A nightmare at any time but especially in the winter months.
Covering your pipes with a heat insulating material is known as lagging. You can buy this from a DIY store and it is fairly easy and cheap to do. As well as keeping you warm, these measures can result in significant savings too.

Looking after your loft
It is a good idea to check that the insulation in your loft is in good condition and that there are no leaks in your hot water tank. It is worth considering lagging your hot water tank and the pipes in your loft too. It is important to keep your loft well-insulated, especially during winter because so much heat can be lost if it isn't. Getting loft insulation will not only keep more heat in your home, but it will also bring down your energy bill.

Stopcock 
It might sound obvious but knowing where your stopcock is located is vital. Your stopcock turns the cold water system in your house on and off and you may need to turn your water off quickly in an emergency. It is also useful to keep numbers for emergency plumbers to hand so you can find them quickly.

Chimney 
Another place that heat from your home can escape from is your chimney. If you use the chimney, then you could slot a wooden board in to cover the throat of the chimney when it isn't in use to stop the heat escaping. Or, if you don't use it but you don't want to board it up then you can get a chimney balloon which effectively stops heat loss by keeping the warm air in and the cold air out. They also stop debris and wildlife from falling into your fireplace and they last for years.

Preparing your car
It is always a good idea to keep your car ship shape but even more so in winter. You don't want your car letting you down on a long journey in bad weather.
Make sure your tyres are pumped up so they have a good grip on roads that could be icy. Check you have a pumped up spare too. It's always a good idea to be prepared and have plenty of screen wash, de-icer and scrapers for those cold snaps. Checking the water and oil are topped up could save you a lot of hassle too.
It's important to check all the lights on your vehicle are working, especially as visibility in sleet and snow can be poor.
It is a good idea to have a first aid kit, blankets and some waterproofs in the boot as well. You never know when essential items like these can come in handy!

Looking after your gutters
Make sure all gutters and drains are cleared of debris to prevent a build up of leaves or other materials that can cause a leak or water damage. You'll be able to tell if you've got an issue if rainwater goes down the side of your house, or if there is any discolouration on your walls. These blockages are frequently the result of fallen leaves, moss or twigs from old bird's nests.
It is essential to make sure rainfall can be effectively drained from your home as it can cause damp and mould to build up.

Securing your garden
Clear leaves from your garden paths to make sure you don't slip, especially in the rain. It is a good idea to secure garden equipment like trampolines to stop them overturning in strong winds and potentially damaging your fences. Cutting back branches and repairing any damage to your fences, gates and garden shed will also give you peace of mind if the wind does pick up.

Stock up on supplies
Useful items to stock up on are torches, batteries, candles and matches. Although they are, thankfully, not regular occurrences, severe winter weather can cause power cuts and it will be so much easier to handle one if you are prepared and have things to hand so they can be easily accessed.
Stock up on basic foods and any medications that you need. It is also useful to have a store of extra blankets to hand in case it takes a while for the power to return.

Having a warm, comfortable and snug home is what everyone wants for Christmas so start getting winter ready today.