18 Nov 7 easy jobs you can do around the house to make improvements this winter
As the days get shorter, the nights longer and the weather colder, it might be tempting to lock yourself away indoors with a cup of cocoa and your favourite box set, but there are some jobs around the house you probably should not be putting off as the end of the warm weather will make these all more important. Some will add value, others are simply a reaction to the realities of winter, but all should be relatively easy improvements you could and should consider making to your home.
1. Gutter clearance and maintenance
How many of us look up at the pipework that frames our properties? Gutters are taken so much for granted that I’d imagine you’ve stopped seeing them when you look at your home, but they are a vital part of your property’s defence against the elements. Gutters direct rainwater from roofs into drains so it does not gush down the side of brickwork creating opportunities for damp to get in. Leaves, twigs and even the odd bird’s nest left over from spring can block your gutters and along with last winter’s frosts can have caused damage that will increase the chances of overflows and rainwater misdirection. When all that’s needed is a ladder, a brush and the possibility of a good contractor if repairs or replacements are needed, it makes sense to make this part of your annual pre-winter maintenance routine.
2. Look after Santa’s front door
The occasional nip in the air signifies that we’re on the countdown towards Christmas, and shops already playing jingly songs from the ’80s leave us in no doubt of this. As the nights close in and the central heating strains, especially in older houses, it will be tempting to light a fire in the hearth. Don’t forget to look after your chimney well before winter hits, because it needs cleaning to ensure you don’t smoke yourself out of house and home. It also needs that annual check-up to make sure that there are no blockages or holes created by flaking bricks or mortar which could affect its efficiency or cause a nasty draft.
3. Service your boiler
When’s the worst time your boiler packed up? Trust me, if it’s going to stop working, it’ll be on a cold winter’s eve, probably on a Friday night when it’s that much more expensive to get someone out to fix it and it might take days for the right part to come in, leaving you to huddle in a single room as close to your home’s one electric heater as possible. There are two solutions you could consider, 1) buy more electric heaters, or 2) far more sensible, make sure that you get your boiler serviced before the winter months when you won’t mind too much if it has to be turned off for a few days, check radiator thermostats, and, if you have one, make sure your hot water tank is insulated. A regularly serviced boiler will not only give you winter-long peace of mind, but it will look good to a buyer if and when you decide to sell.
4. Banish those pesky draughts
There’s little point ensuring the efficiency of your heating if your home is leaking warmth left, right and centre. Victorian and Edwardian houses are renowned for their draughty windows and doors, flapping letterboxes and windy floorboards, all of which can be remedied with the right repairs and seals. Don’t leave them for another winter of you being huddled on the sofa, feet up and away from the biting wind at ankle level – deal with those pesky drafts now.
5. Burglar-proof your home
Don’t let your home be a ‘soft target’ for crime. Longer winter nights mean emboldened criminals. It makes sense, therefore, to do all you can to put them off. This means lighting on a timer, thicker curtains and blinds and an alarm or camera and movement activated external lights. With smartphone linked systems (cameras, alarms, lights and blinds) it’s now easier than ever to install all the burglar-proofing your home may need.
6. Clear out your pipes
Next to the boiler breaking down, blocked or burst pipes are the second worst preventable thing that could happen this winter without the right maintenance work now. From toilets to heating, waste and water, your pipes should be clean and free flowing. There are plenty of chemicals available at your local supermarket to break down hair and other minor blockages, so make sure you use them and have them to hand throughout the winter months.
7. Have a winter clear-out in your garden
Your green spaces don’t grow that much throughout the winter, but there are some things you should do for the health of your plant life and for the garden view you’ll be looking out onto for the next three months. Mow the lawn, clear the leaves and prune your trees and bushes because autumn/winter is the best time for tree maintenance for most species.