Now that winter is setting in – and we’ve already had some impressive storms – it’s time to batten down the hatches and prepare your home for the cold season. We’ve listed the top ten jobs you need to get done before it’s too cold and dark to manage them! Get these done now or you’ll face much more work setting things right when the Spring comes.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to clean and put away your garden furniture. If you have space in a shed or garage, or your furniture can be disassembled, get it indoors. Otherwise, get it under a cover. Metal furniture might benefit from a coat of suitable paint. Soft furnishings need to be protected from rain, snow and condensation. Make sure your decking, patio and drive are clean and free of mould, algae, and lichen, as these can mix with rain and frost and become very slippery in bad weather. Put hoses away, and if you have a sprinkler system, make sure it has a backflow prevention valve so no chemicals can leak out into the water source.
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2. Drive and paths
Make sure that anything loose is removed from paths and driveways, as winter storms can blow things around and cause damage. Plant pots, barbecues and gardening equipment should all be stored away – you’re not going to be needing them in the Winter. Check your fencing to make sure it’s secure – fence panels may be blown down in strong winds, particularly if the posts have rotted. Replace damaged panels and make sure that wooden posts are seated in metal post anchors, or replace them with concrete posts.
Around this time of year you will start to turn your central heating on, and that’s when problems often start. If your radiators have cold spots they may need bleeding, and if the problems are worse you may need a power flush to rid the whole system of sludge. Now isn’t the time to have to call in a heating engineer, so an annual service of your boiler and radiators is really a necessity. Outdoor water pipes should be lagged, and the condensate pipe from your boiler too, as this can also freeze and cause a boiler breakdown. Also check your bathroom ventilation to stop mould getting established, and open and clear out ventilator covers.
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Rain can break down external brickwork, or more commonly the pointing in the nooks and crannies between bricks. Any loose pointing can soon lead to further deterioration and can let in damp, so take care to chip out anything loose and replace it, or have a tradesman do it if your re-pointing skills aren’t up to scratch.
As important as brickwork, exterior paintwork must be regularly maintained to stop damp getting into wood. Remove, loose flakes of paint on woodwork, rub down, undercoat and repaint when you have a reasonably warm day – there’s no point doing it in damp or cold weather.
Dark nights often bring a spike in burglaries, so think about winter security. Fit security lights, or if you already have them, check the bulbs. If you have video security, make sure it’s functioning, and check all your window and door locks. Test windows and doors for tightness and make sure they are draught-proof. Also check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – most house fires take place in winter. You might like to fit pathway lights to help avoid accidents on darker days, particularly if your path has steps.
7. Roofs and gutters
A leaking roof or a blocked gutter can cause all sorts of problems in the winter. Clear gutters and downpipes, repair loose tiles and check joists in lofts for rot. Check chimneys for loose brickwork. If it needs repair, call on a professional, you don;t want to be working at height in poor weather conditions.
Winter is also the time to clean and sharpen all your DIY and gardening tools, so that when the weather lightens up, you’re ready to spring back into DIY action.
9. Painting and decorating
Normally associated with Spring cleaning, there’s no reason why you can’t to painting and decorating jobs on the cold Winter days – in fact it may help to lift the gloom if you redecorate using bright colours. Jobs like renovating floors can also be done in the Winter, then you have a bright new surface to enjoy as the Spring comes in.
Yes, you can garden in the Winter! Now’s the time to plant Spring-flowering bulbs. Plant them three times their own depth using a bulb planting tool, and if you have heavy clay soil, drop in some sand to help drainage. Dig over any bare ground you plan to turf int eh Spring, adding in some manure, and remove dead leaves from the lawn. Remove dead plants from ponds, and if you have a pump, remove it and store it for the Winter.