Batten down the hatches ready for winter's icy blast
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THE clocks might not go back for another month, but the nights are already fairly drawing in and there's a definite chill in the early morning.
Now's the time to look at those outside jobs you've been putting off all summer before autumn really takes hold.
Most of the work can be undertaken by competent DIYers, but some specialist work, such as roofing, window and pointing repairs should be left to professional builders.
Home health check list
• Take a good look at your roof. A simple hairline crack in a tile, slate or felt, can lead to major damp patches on interior ceilings and walls. Any suspect areas should be given priority treatment by an expert.
• It's good to clean your gutters at least once a year of any leaves and debris to prevent blockages and silting up. Best leave this until after all the leaves have dropped from the trees. Be careful when placing ladders against plastic gutters or pipework and where possible use a ladder with an extension bracket.
While you're up there, check down pipes and gutters for cracks and leaks. Look out especially for leaks behind pipes, which can go unnoticed. If you're unsteady on ladders don't even attempt it – call in the professionals.
• Chimneys should be swept at least once a year to prevent chimney fires and any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Check for missing mortar and cracks and ask your local builder to sort any potential problems before they get out of hand.
• Check brickwork for cracked or crumbling pointing and replace it before moisture seeps in.
• Outside woodwork needs preserving against weather conditions. Soffits, fascias and claddings, especially if they are timber, all need periodic maintenance. One way to resolve the problem of maintenance almost forever is to replace them with PVCu materials that only need an occasional wipe with a wet cloth.
Wooden window frames and doors may also need repainting or preserving to protect them from winter storms.
• Check drains and soakaways to ensure they are not clogged up and can carry excessive water quickly and efficiently.
• Give your heating system an overhaul and make sure all the radiators are working properly with no cold spots. Is it time to replace your boiler for a more efficient one? Advice is free, so ask your plumber and heating engineer what they'd recommend.
• Make sure your home is well insulated, draught proofed and ready to keep out the winter chills. Invest in draught excluders for doors and windows – they take half an hour at most to fit and you'll be amazed at the difference.
• Get your loft insulated to the recommended depth of 270mm (approximately 11inches). You'll minimise heat loss, your home will be warmer, you will be able to turn down the thermostat a few degrees and significantly reduce your heating bills.
• In the garden, check wooden sheds and fences. Mend any damage and treat with wood preservative.
These little jobs don't cost a fortune, and getting them done now could save you one! Call your local builder, roofer or joiner today.