When clocks go back and winter starts to make itself felt, it's time to winter-proof your home.
The cold, rain and wind can do some serious damage to your home, so it could end up costing you a small fortune in repairs.
Here are a number of easy ways to make sure your home is fighting fit over the cold winter months.
1. Check your gutters and drains
First, clear your gutters and drains of leaves and other debris to avoid blockages and minimise the risk of water damage.
Make sure there’s no misalignment of drains, which could lead to water running down the side of your house.
And don’t forget to check the shoe at the bottom of the drainpipe is facing away from your property.
2. Sweep your chimney and check your tiles
Check your roof on a regular basis to look out for any slipped, missing tiles or worn concrete.
If you have a chimney, don’t forget to maintain it to avoid chimney fires, which are common during cold months.
It’s also worth checking the lead flashings around your chimney to see if there are any missing.
3. Keep your pipes toasty
Burst pipes are a common problem over the winter period – usually caused when they thaw rapidly after freezing up.
If this does happen, it can create a nasty escape of water which can eventually lead to flooding and serious damage.
The best way to keep on top of pipes is to protect them with a foam layer. This will act as an insulation and will prevent them from freezing and bursting.
And if you’re going away during the winter months, it’s best to set your heating to come on for at least an hour a day.
4. Get your boiler checked
Having no central heating over the winter months is the last thing you’d want to worry about.
A new boiler can cost a small fortune if your old one breaks, so it certainly pays to make sure you’re covered should anything go wrong.
Use a Gas Safe registered engineer to get your boiler serviced before the cold weather really kicks in.
It’s worth checking if your home insurance policy already covers boiler and heating breakdown.
If not, it’s worth looking into a standalone boiler cover. It could save you from a big repair bill and ensure you’re not left in the cold longer than you need to be.
5. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide
If your boiler or heaters are poorly maintained, you may find yourself susceptible to carbon monoxide (CO).
You can’t smell it, you can’t taste it. But this silent killer can be prevented by taking some simple steps:
1. Get a CO detector. Regularly check and maintain it.
2. Have your gas appliances and flues checked once a year.
3. Check chimneys, flues and other vents are clear from things like overgrown vegetation so emissions can escape.
4. Check that gas flames burn blue.
For more on this, see our guide to checking for carbon monoxide warning signs.
6. Get insulated
Around a quarter of heat in your house is lost through the roof. So insulating your loft and wall cavity is a good way to keep your home nice and toasty, while using less energy.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save up to £240 a year on your energy bills by having insulation installed.
There are government grants and schemes available, so it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Plus, it’ll take around two years to pay for itself through the savings you’ll make on your energy bills.
7. Check your home insurance
It’s best to check that your home insurance policy is up to scratch, covering weather-related damage.
A little winter home maintenance can go a long way at keeping your costs at bay, or when it comes to making a weather-related home insurance claim.
Why? Because your insurer could refuse to pay out if it feels you haven’t maintained your home to a sufficient standard.