Sometimes it feels like Britain doesn’t have a climate, it just has weather - and that can mean blizzards of snow in the morning and glorious sunshine in the afternoon, or weeks without a drop of rain, followed by several weeks’ worth all at once.
It keeps forecasters busy, but it also means our homes are constantly kept on their toes. Our roofs, walls and windows are all built to withstand the elements, but winter weather can be more than a match, especially if it’s been a while since you checked on their condition.
With weeks of cold and wet weather behind us, and February’s fun just around the corner, here are seven tips for making sure your home is in fighting shape.
Secure your guttering
When temperatures drop below freezing, it can play havoc with faulty guttering. If there are are any blockages or sags in your guttering, any water that accumulates can freeze and expand, causing cracks or damaging the joins between separate pieces.
Add in the impact of high winds and it’s a recipe for disaster. Our guttering and downpipes do vital job of keeping the bulk of wet weather away from our walls, where persistent moisture can lead to damp building up. Getting a fascias, soffits and guttering specialist to fix your issue isn’t usually an expensive job, but can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Repair your roof
It’s not just traditional pitched roofs that can suffer in storms with slipped tiles and loose flashing. Flat roofs are just as vulnerable, especially older roofs where the material may have become damaged and weakened over time.
If you have a flat roof on your extension, garage, or anywhere else, make sure it’s still secure and watertight - look for any areas where water might be pooling, especially where there are joins in the felt, and check the edges to make sure there’s nowhere where it’s starting to peel away. If in doubt, ask a roofer to take a look and repair any holes.
Check your chimney
When you’re double checking that everything on your roof is shipshape and secure, you should spare a few moments to think about your chimney as well.
It’s easy to overlook, especially if you don’t have a working fuel-burning stove, but chimney pots, cowls and birdguards can all come loose and blow away in high winds, so if yours looks a bit wonky, it’s worth having an expert make sure everything is still on tight - before it ends up flying down the street in the next gale.
Watch your windows
It can be quite relaxing to be tucked up indoors when it’s blowing a gale outside, watching the rain cascade down the window. But it’s less relaxing if you start to notice that the rain isn’t actually staying on the outside…
Modern double-glazed windows should be sealed tight and prevent any water getting in, but it’s possible for the seals around the panes to fail over time - and even for the seal around the entire window unit itself to give up the ghost. If you still have single-glazed windows in some rooms, these issues are much more common, and finding a window fitter who can upgrade your windows to modern units which meet current standards will help keep the water outside where it belongs. It will also improve your insulation and save you money on your energy bills.
Install some insulation
On the subject of insulation, it’s worth making sure yours is up to scratch as soon as possible. It might seem like a long term job but fitting loft insulation is a quick and relatively inexpensive job that can have a big impact on your home, helping to prevent heat escaping through your roof and keeping it in your home where it belongs.
Snow is actually a very useful tool for spotting if your roof is up to snuff or not. An insulated roof will keep a cover of snow for much longer than a wasteful roof, which will warm up and see the snow melt in no time. Take a look at yours to see how it measures up, and find an insulation installer if it falls short.
Fix your fence
A familiar victim of bad weather, our fences are primed to suffer in strong winds. Frosty weather can make old wood more brittle and breakable, especially if it hasn’t been treated in a long time, so a combination of rain, freezing temperatures and high winds is a perfect storm, so to speak, for ruining your garden boundary.
If your fence is has been battered in the past few weeks, or you think the time of reckoning is at hand, then find a fencer who can install a more robust replacement before yours goes sailing down the street.
Service your boiler
If there’s one tip that we like to share at MyBuilder whenever the mercury drops - which is most of the year, really - it’s the merits of having your boiler serviced. Like checking your fire alarm or changing the oil in your car, it’s something you probably feel like you can keep putting off, but honestly, you don’t want to wait until you have a problem.
You can have your boiler checked at any time of year - in fact, doing it when then weather is good and you’re not relying on your heating works perfectly - but if the best time to do it was yesterday, then the second best time to do it is today, before it’s too late. So find an engineer and make sure your boiler can keep you warm, no matter how cold and wet it is outside.