Autumn Property Checklist
As depressing as it is to even consider, we think it’s time we all accepted the fact that summer is on its last legs. The mornings are getting decidedly dimmer and nippier and we even saw a leaf fall from a tree in Hyde Park the other day. With September almost upon us the onset of a good old English winter won’t be far behind it, and neither will all the associated problems.
There’s no such thing as being too prepared and, although you may be forgiven for spending the last few sunny weekends catching as many rays as possible whilst sipping your favourite ‘refreshment,’ we think it may be time to start preparing. To quote a phrase coined by Game of Thrones, “winter is coming.” Take a look through our autumn property checklist to make sure you are fully prepared for its icy cold grasp.
Clean and fix gutters
No autumn property checklist would be complete without some gutter clearing! It’s advisable to leave this for the post leaf fall period before it gets so cold the standing water could freeze. Get on your properly supported ladder and systematically move across the gutter pulling out all the leaves and muck that will have accumulated over the year. Whilst you are there check for any cracks or structural issues. Also check the downspouts are clear and not leaking by pouring some water down them. Clear gutters help prevent the formation of rather nasty, and downright dangerous, ice dams (pictured).
Whilst up there, also take a look at the state of the roof. Keep an eye out for any cracks, slipped shingles or slates or holes. Identifying the problem now whilst the weather is still fair will save you from a leaking bedroom ceiling and also ensure your local roofer has time to see you before the busy winter call out period.
Store and protect outdoor equipment and plants
Before the first frost attempt to bring all pot plants into an interior space with natural light. If this isn’t possible wrap cover the plants with plastic but beware, ceramic pots that are left containing soil can sometimes crack during a particularly nasty frost. This is also a good time to store any electrical or mechanical gardening equipment. Again, a connected storage area is better for this purpose than an outbuilding as temperatures are less prone to extreme fluctuations which can damage the mechanical operation of the equipment. Ensure you drain all petrol from petrol powered equipment as well.
Now is also the time to place a bag of grit and a shovel in an easily accessible spot in preparation for the inevitable snow fall and icing over of paths and walkways. Whilst clearing your own path why not clear the section of the street in front of your house too? If everyone did this the streets would be a safer place for walking during the winter months.
Also be sure to drain and store all hoses to prevent cracking or splitting due to frost damage. Whilst doing this turn off exterior water stopcocks and drain all exterior pipes for the same reason. This is also a great time to make sure any bird feeders are full, if you have any. Winter is a particularly tough time for birds, especially when snow blankets or ice sheets cover the ground and prevent them from accessing any natural food. If you decide to start feeding birds during the winter months please see it through until the summer. You will be helping some of the more beautiful local wildlife survive until summer and there really is something special about seeing a Robin Red Breast contrasting against fresh snowfall.
Finally perform a walk around inspection of the exterior of the house. What you are looking for here are any sections of peeling paint or, you guessed it, cracks. Pay particular attention to any points where pipes or cables enter brickwork as these areas are particularly susceptible to wear and tear. Any small cracks or peeling sections can be sealed with a good quality sealant and painted over. Larger, more severe cracks must be inspected by a professional, preferably before the cold weather has a chance to exacerbate the issue. A step by step guide for filling wall cracks can be found here.
Have your boiler and pipes inspected
Another integral part of any autumn property checklist, although it may seem like a pricey necessity at the time, commissioning a pre winter check of your heating system can save you money, time, effort and discomfort in the long run. For a start, a properly serviced and maintained heating system will run more efficiently and therefore save you money. Further to this, regular servicing can identify small issues that will cost a relatively small amount to rectify in comparison to the costly repairs they could incur if left unattended.
This becomes particularly poignant with the onset of winter. Small leakages that can be fixed by replacing a £2 washer now could lead to a rupture in the pipe system if allowed to freeze. This could leave you with no central heating, and therefore a very cold house, and a large repair bill to foot. If you are lucky enough to have a real, working fireplace, now would also be the time to employ the services of your local chimney sweep, maybe think twice about employing him if he’s named Gamfield though.
Ensure doors and windows are sealed properly
Another relatively small job that can help you save money and keep you more comfortable is a quick inspection of the sealing edges around windows and doors. By lightly running your hand around the edges of the windows you will be able to feel if any air is blowing in. You can fix this by attaching sealant strips to the already in place rubber seals. We recommend you do the same for any exterior doors. If a noticeable breeze blows in underneath investing in a draft excluder is a far cheaper alternative to replacing the door and just as effective. More information on sealing windows can be found here.
Test and change detector batteries
Obviously ensuring all smoke and CO2 detectors are working all year round is of the upmost importance but now is a good time to perform another check. Winter is a time of shut in and, inevitably, more fire. This can create a ‘perfect storm’ of fire hazards so ensuring all alarms and detectors are working properly is a must.
We hope you find this checklist useful and we wish you a safe and warm winter. We’re now off to make the most of this almost September sun!
Written by Duncan Petrie | Sales Manager
Image One Attribution: edwin van buuringen
Image Two Attribution: State Farm
Image Three Attribution: ahisgett
Image Four Attribution: Phil and Pam