Top Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Posted December 3rd, 2020 by SimpliSafe

It’s that time of year again. The festive season has crept up on us and has already sent us into ultra busy mode. Shopping for presents, finding the perfect Christmas jumper, organising work Christmas parties etc.

It’s also the time that can wreak extra havoc on our lives if we don’t get on top of our home maintenance during the colder and more brutal winter months. Unsure if your house is fit to face winter? Read through our top winter home maintenance tips to help you prepare and relax as the nights draw in.

Check windows, doors and ventilation

When checking windows and doors, test the sealing by opening and closing them and looking out for any gaps between seals. If windows and doors have seen better days, try adding weatherstripping to protect against air leaks as well as helping you save on energy and heating bills. You can also caulk gaps as well as adding another level of insulation with draught excluders.

Window wells

For basement windows, window wells are great for letting natural light in and providing ventilation. You need to protect them from snow and build-up of water with window well covers, however. Not only do these protect against a build-up of snow, water and debris and prevent basement flooding, but they can prevent accidental falls too. You should make sure they are well maintained as if liner failure occurs, soil pressure can widen gaps giving water easier access to over-saturate the soil, leading to leaks, dampness and possible flooding. So inspect your liners and window wells, and replace if necessary.

Gutters and drainage

We may wish for a white Christmas but if you haven’t got your drainage and gutters in good shape, you may want to revise that wish. A classic British winter usually brings a lot more rainfall so making sure your gutter has had a good clean-out is imperative. A regular clean-out can reduce the need to replace them (costing more money) and reduce chances of roof damage, as if a gutter clogs up they can overflow, break and put a lot of strain on the roof. Not only that, they can fill up with ice which can cause thawing damage.

Weatherproofing pipes

As below zero temperatures come, this can cause freezing pipes to crack from thawing, meaning serious water and structural damage can occur. Make sure you do a safety check of all your pipes to detect any signs of weakness before winter comes - look out for moisture on connectors and replace them quickly. For extra protection, you can add insulating tape to wrap around exterior pipes as well as pipes found in the basement. Temperature sensors can also alert you when your home drops below 5°C, so you can prevent pipes from freezing or bursting.

Protecting against water damage and leaks

You need to look out for water damage stains and dampness in basements and attics, this will give a good indication of how well, or not so well, your drainage system is working. The drain pipes may need an adjustment, make sure you’re directing and extending downspouts further away from the house.

If you want to keep on top of water damage, leakage and potential flooding, set up a water sensor to trigger an alarm whenever it comes into contact with water.

Garden, garage and shed winter protection

Are your gardens, driveways, patios, garages and sheds winter-ready? If you’re not fortunate enough to live on a street with a shared grit salt container, make sure you have a bag stored ready in case Jack Frost makes a visit - especially for those steep driveways. Once you’ve made it to your car in one piece, have de-icers and scrapers ready in the vehicle to clear car windows.

Make sure your garden is safe by checking you’ve not left any hazardous tools from clearing up snow or leaves. Store and lock rakes, folks and tools away, especially if you have children. To have your garden and shed well-prepared for winter, shovels should be easy to reach. Have a rummage through if you’ve not been in for a while and do a stock check. Bring all the useful winter tools to the front, you could even get some organiser hooks and shelves and make a neat winter maintenance compartment for your de-icing salt, shovels, scrapers etc.

Do the same for the garage, don’t leave it until last minute and when you’re in a rush, to rummage through for grit salt or winter tools; have them lined up and shelved ready. Make sure you know how to make a garage door more secure to keep all your winter maintenance tools safe.

Vet your dryers

Hanging out clothes to dry on the washing line is no longer an option during winter and so dryers become a lot more active. Being a potential fire hazard, it’s important to always remove built-up lint from filters to reduce fire risk as well as improving household energy efficiency. Don’t forget to clean vents, found at the back of most dryers using vent duct brushes.

Check your central heating and electrics

It’s recommended that each winter you bleed your radiators to maintain their efficiency and to ensure they run at full capacity. It’s best to handle one radiator at a time and to make sure to check that the air pressure in the heating boiler is at the correct level. Make sure to have regular boiler checks too, so you know everything is working properly.

Winter often means more nights in and using more electricity, so it’s good to check your electrics with an inspection and safety check. You can use a multimeter to test power flow through the electrical circuits and you should check extension cords, wall sockets and heating systems. If there are problems, then contact a reputable electrician to investigate further. Avoid cluttering sockets and make sure appliances are always off when not in use and for those with rabbits or gnawing pets, make sure cables and wires are protected from being chewed - and of course out of reach.

Fireplace safety

As more fires will be lit during cold spells, it’s important to maintain fire safety in your home. Whether you have a log fire, open fire or gas fire, make sure you have professional checks, especially if you’re looking to buy and install a new one. Never leave them unattended and use fire guards if you have pets and young children. Another good idea is to keep lit candles in glass lanterns to protect them from pets and young children bashing into them or knocking them over.

If you have open fires and log burners, heat-resistant gloves are a good call, along with well-positioned and secured fire safety tools at the side, so you can control the fire efficiently. As winter approaches, it’s now a good idea to gather all the wood you have lying around and chop them down, if needs be, to be stored ready for those cosy, evening fires.

Make sure if you have found any wood outdoors to chop/saw them safely and keep them stored indoors, giving them enough time to dry out ready for use in home fires. Stay extra protected with a smoke detector, especially if your house is using real fires.

Preparing for winter storms

The winter season can bring some disrupting storms, potentially causing power cuts, so make sure you have a go-to drawer full of working torches, candles, lighters and batteries. It’s all about preparing for the worst, so have a stash of cosy winter warmers and blankets in case the heating breaks. If you live out of the way, in a more rural setting, where travelling to a local supermarket is trickier, it’s especially important to have backup and a winter storm prep cupboard. Also, having a solar-powered or battery-powered radio is a great idea to catch up on news and weather if your mobile reception goes out.

As mentioned earlier, make sure all winter tools are kept organised and are easy to access near doors of garages and sheds. Have you got a snow shovel, de-icing salt, scrapers, and brooms? You need to be ready to clear up snow quickly, especially if a blizzard comes, to prevent damage or breaks from heavy, built-up snowfall.

Deterring burglars during winter

With darker evenings, burglars could take advantage of this as vacant households are easier to spot with no lights or activity. Whether you’re out at night or on a winter getaway (check out how to keep valuables safe while travelling if you’re jetting off!), you need to stop opportunistic thieves in their tracks and have a strong level of security protecting your home. A professionally monitored alarm system is a perfect solution for providing outstanding security to your household with its 24/7 monitoring and police, fire and guard dispatch.

Now you’re ready for whatever the winter throws at you!