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How to prepare your home for winter

  • 21, Oct 2021
  • Read time: 10 mins

As the nights start drawing in, it's a reminder to ensure your home is ready for our British winter. Our British climate can throw anything at us from snow and frost to heavy rainfall. And it is a good idea to prepare for these wintery conditions to help avoid any expensive repairs or try to find a trades person during what can be a busy time. This guide will provide a helpful checklist for your home to get it winter ready.

Person relaxing at home with hot drink and book.

Loft insulation 

With rising energy prices it’s important to ensure your home is as efficient as it possibly can be. A quarter of your heat is lost through the roof in the home so it’s important to insulate it. The Energy Saving Trust have some useful tips you need to consider when insulating your home

Check your roof – replace any slipped roof tiles 

As part of your home maintenance routine, it is good to check your roof and guttering for any damage, like loose or missing roof tiles. Replacing damaged or missing tiles is important to prevent water damage to the structure of your home. Our guide about roof leaks explains the main causes and how to prevent leaks.

Clear the gutters, downpipes, and gullies 

When you check your roof, it is a good time to look at your guttering and drains for damage or any blockages. Leaves, stones, moss, and other debris might easily end up clogging your drains and gutters. 

This can cause damage to your home because water cannot drain away freely. 

Clear away any debris that's stuck and replace any cracked or damaged gutters.

Insulate hot water pipes 

No one wants to wake up to find their water pipes have burst in their home. Water damage is expensive to repair. Insulating your water pipes is relatively cheap to do and can avoid them bursting and flooding your home. Read our guide about water leaks to detect and prevent them.

What is your stopcock and why is it important? 

Is it important to know where your stopcock is in case of a water leak or carrying out any repairs like replacing a washer. The stopcock controls the flow of water around the home. Switching it off will stop water from flowing through your taps and prevent further damage if you have a water leak. 

Your stopcock is usually found in the kitchen underneath the sink. However, it might be near the boiler, under the stairs, or in some properties, it’s located outside. If unsure ask a plumber.

Check your boiler is in good working condition 

Around 85% of Brits will heat their homes at over 18C during winter months according to Worcester Bosch. No one wants to be without hot water or heating during a cold spell so it’s important to ensure your boiler is well maintained. You may want to consider getting your boiler serviced annually before the cooler weather hits. You can check the water pressure on your boiler to ensure it is functioning at an optimal level. If the pressure is too low or too high it could damage the boiler. Learn how to check and amend your boiler pressure. You may want to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to alert your family in case there are any emission issues with your boiler.

Wrap up your hot water tank

You can save up to £18 a year on your heating bills if you install a hot water tank blanket. Typically, a blanket costs around £15-35 at your local DIY store, so it’s a no brainer.

Bleed your radiators 

Bleeding radiators and releasing any trapped air can help keep your home warm. Bleeding the radiator releases the trapped air.

What you need to do: 

  1. Check there is warm water in the system 
  2. Turn off the central heating 
  3. Find the bleed valve on the radiator – it's a small valve on the side of the radiator, near the top 
  4. Turn the valve using a key (you can buy one at your local DIY store) 180ºC anticlockwise to expel any air trapped in the system 
  5. When all the air has been expelled, it'll start to drip water and you can close the valve.

Winter-proof the garden or your outside space 

As part of your winter preparation, you may want to look at your garden including any outbuildings such as a shed. Move any moveable items such as toys and furniture to a secure indoor place like a shed or garage. 

Any tender plants will need to be protected or brought indoors. 

Check over your outbuildings ensuring the roof, windows and doors are secure and not damaged.

Draught proof windows and doors 

Making your doors, windows, and conservatories more energy efficient will help reduce your energy bills. 

Here are some ways you can do this: 

How to insulate windows 

  1. Use window insulator kits to increase insulation 
  2. Hang thermal curtains and blinds to trap heat 
  3. Cover basement window wells to increase energy efficiency 
  4. Buy new windows if they have single glazing or have air leaks. 

How to insulate doors 

  1. Use the deadbolt for easy insulation 
  2. Add a draft guard to block cold air 
  3. Buy a new door if your home is older. This is an instant way to improve the installation 
  4. Upgrade your cat flap/pet door and check for drafts.

Chimney maintenance 

For some, an open fire is a quintessential thing to do in Winter. 

To ensure your chimney stays in tip-top shape make sure you do the following: 

  1. Have your chimney cleaned 
  2. Check the seal on the fireplace door gaskets 
  3. Check the damper 
  4. Have a chimney cap installed 
  5. Inspect your fireplace/chimney system for early signs of a leaky chimney or other damage. 

When inspecting your chimney lookout for: 

Outside 

  • Debris from crumbling bricks and mortar near the chimney on the roof 
  • White staining on chimney bricks 
  • Warped flashing.

Inside 

  • Water or mould inside the firebox 
  • The smell of natural gas/propane 
  • Dampness on the walls and ceiling near the fireplace 
  • Strong odours coming from the fireplace.

These signs could tell you that your system should be looked at by a chimney professional before you operate the fireplace again. 

Don’t forget to buy fuel for your fire.

Top up your oil/LPG tank 

For those not on mains gas, it is a good idea to stock up on fuel supplies like gas or oil before the cold sets in. Summer tends to be the best time to buy because of good stock levels and cheaper prices.

Smart meter on timer 

It is generally known it is best to heat your home when you need it rather than have it on consistently. 

Most boilers have a timer that you can use but you may want to buy a smart device to control your heating on your phone. Then you can pop the heating on just before you get home so it’s all toasty when you get in. Ideal for those who are in and out of the home.

Power cut plan 

No one wants to be caught short during a power cut rummaging for candles and a torch. During the Winter the impact is greater because it is darker for longer. 

Firstly, if the power does go make sure you switch off all electrical devices like hair dryers or kettles that may come on once the electricity is back on. 

You can call the National Grid to report a power cut on 105. They can give you some advice and a rough idea of when the power will be back on. 

You may want to arrange an emergency pack and put it somewhere handy in case there’s a power cut. 

You might want to include:

  • A battery-powered radio 
  • Candles 
  • Torch 
  • A power pack to charge phones or other devices 
  • Extra pack of batteries 
  • Long-lasting snacks 
  • Bottles of water 
  • A blanket. 

Remember to check on neighbours, especially if they are old or vulnerable, if it is safe to do so.

Protecting your home

Having the right cover is important if you need to make a claim. At MORE THAN we cover for a storm, flood, and bad weather damage to the home.

Learn more about our home insurance

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