We can ignore it all we want but the evenings are getting shorter, mornings darker and the temperatures lower. Winter is looming and now is the time to ensure your home is in tip top shape.
Preparing for more ‘challenging’ winter weather conditions doesn’t have to be a gargantuan task, but by doing these small jobs now you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache down the line.
First and foremost, thoroughly check your heating system. Central heating systems and boilers are incredibly efficient at warming our homes, however when they go wrong it can be a disaster. The last thing you want is to be stuck with no heating system in the depths of December so get ahead of the curve and schedule a check now.
For a regular boiler, you’ll want to turn it completely off and set all of your room thermostats to 0 degrees. Then, turn the boiler and heating system on, but be sure to switch your hot water supply off.
Now increase the temperatures on your thermostats again in order to get the boiler fired up. After around 5-10 minutes test to see if your radiators are warming up evenly and on time. If so, your system is in working order and can be switched off, if not, you may have an issue.
If you find your radiators are heating up unevenly, they may need to be bled. This is a simple job and can be done quite quickly. Ensure the heating is totally turned off and that the intake and exit valves are open, place a bucket/basin or a towel under the valve.
From here you’ll want to open the valve with your bleed key/screwdriver, if you hear a hissing sound there is air trapped in the system, this hissing sound will continue until water begins to pour out of the opened valve.
Now, close the valve and repeat the process any other radiators that are having issues. After this you’ll want to check the boiler pressure levels to ensure you haven’t altered the overall presume in the heating system, if you are bleeding your radiators for the first time you may want to consult the manufacturer’s instructions, or you can get in touch with a licensed plumber.
If you are still having issues, it may be time for a full heating system and gas boiler service.
The onset of winter comes hand in hand with more inclement weather – storm warnings, blustery evenings and driving rain are all things we’ve become accustomed to, but these weather incidents can wreak havoc on homes. You’ll want to inspect your property for any visible cracks, separations or potential leaks and have them tended to.
Getting your heating system in tip-top shape means nothing if all of your warm air is escaping through leaks in the windows and cracks in the walls. A thorough pre-winter inspection of seals around windows and the tightness of doors is a must to ensure there’s not too much exterior airflow through these points.
Have a look around the house and identify any areas where moisture is beginning to gather, similarly try and spot if there are any signs of seepage. Damp entering into the walls can cause harmful mould and mildew growths, which if left untreated can severely affect the air quality within your home. Ensure your home has good, clear ventilation and if there are currently signs of damp, get it treated now.
ROOFS & GUTTERS
The one thing you always need to keep in tip-top shape is the roof over your head. When checking out your roof the first thing you want to examine is your roofline. These should be totally straight so if you notice any dipping or sagging you’ve got an issue somewhere, usually a faulty frame or even a saturated roof decking.
Next, you’ll have to inspect your chimney and the flashings. These are the strips of metal that seals the gap between your chimney and the roof, it is one of the most common areas for leaks to develop on your roof. Pay special attention to the caulk and sealant placed around the flashings, check if they are damaged or loose.
Finally, head up into the attic as you’ll nearly always spot the first signs of a leaky roof in there. Wet roof decking, water droplets on the walls and puddles of water on the floor of the attic, if you see any of these call a professional and schedule a roof repair before the weather takes a turn.
When it comes to your gutters and down pipes, first things first, clean them out. Grab a ladder and something like a plastic spatula then use it to clean the debris out of your gutter. You can also use a plumber’s snake for wet leaves that are clogging up downpipes.
By doing this you’re significantly reducing the risk of puddles forming which can freeze in cold weather putting serious strain on your drainage system. If any of your gutters are sagging or damaged, be sure to replace the affected hooks and pipes themselves.
FIRE SAFETY & YARD LIGHTS
As the temperatures dip the fires will start to be laid. Give your chimney a quick check for blockages and any potential damages, use a good quality flashlight or work light and look up the flue. Chimneys are one of the most favourite places for birds to nest, even if it’s only been a few short months since the fireplace was last used so ensure you’re checking before setting a fire.
Now is the best time to be checking all of your alarms, generally speaking the end of daylight savings time is always considered as good a time as any to get your alarms checked. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms should all be fitted and checked regularly, especially as we head towards Christmas and the potential fire hazards that come with lights and decorations left powered on for extended periods of time.
You can check these yourselves or if you need alarms installed you can hire an electrician in Cork to come and fit your required systems.
It’s also advised to check any outside lights that may be located around your property and change the bulbs now if needs be. These will become important as the days become shorter in the coming weeks.
PLUMBING AND PIPES
There’s nothing worse than a burst pipe repair in the depths of winter. Burst pipes are extremely disruptive, as well as costly. If there is a particularly bad burst you may even have to vacate the property and that’s the last thing you’ll want in the lead up to Christmas.
Have a look around the outside of the property and make note of any cracks or holes that may have sprung up on the outside walls, these can let cold air in towards the pipe which can cause freezing. Seal these gaps before they become a bigger issue.
Where possible, insulate your pipes. Plumbing and pipes that run through the attic are particularly at risk as often times newer homes are so well insulated that no heat travels up into the attic leaving the pipes totally exposed to low temperatures.
Also if you have any taps located on the outside of the property you’ll want to open them, allow the excess water within to flow out and then shut the supply off at the mains. It’s vitally important that you drain the line totally as any water that is left in the pipes could freeze and in turn, crack the pipe.
Reports of burst pipes have become more and more common in recent years with many properties around Cork County and City being at particular risk due to the old, led pipe systems in the area. By taking pre-emptive action you’ll be saving yourself a lot of money and heartache down the line.
Also now is a good time to familiarise yourself with the location of your stop-cock in the case of emergencies. If a pipe does burst, you’ll want to find this and shut off the water completely, this is usually located underneath the kitchen sink and looks quite similar to a tap or lever.
If you’re concerned about any potential plumbing issues, get in touch with our expert team of plumbers in Cork who will be able to assist you.
If you’re concerned about any odd jobs that need doing before winter creeps in, get in contact with Brosnans Property Solutions today. The Brosnans team offer complete Property Maintenance solutions with certified plumbers, electricians, roofers and dedicated “Handyman Cork” team aboard the Brosnans team can help you get your home ready for winter.