It's time for a pre-winter house check

In many northern hemisphere countries, icy winters that freeze trapped water around the home can cause expensive damage. We are lucky that in most parts of Australia we don’t have to worry about water in our pipes and hoses freezing and expanding, and causing damage as a result.

But there are still a few home maintenance tasks that should be carried out to ensure you keep your energy bills from soaring, your home’s components efficient and your property safe. And the sooner outdoor weatherproofing chores are done, the more pleasant it will be. No-one likes to get on a ladder during a chilly thunderstorm to clean out gutters threatening to flood the house because they are jammed with autumn leaves.

We are now into the final month of autumn, and unclogging those gutters to ensure stormwater makes its way to where it is supposed to is an essential task.

You might also need to check rooms for mould, particularly if they are rarely opened or have poor ventilation. Winter condensation on  windows leads to mould and sometimes even rots the wooden frames.

Signs that mould may be appearing in bathrooms and laundries that become steamy over winter should also be monitored.

Small heaters may also be brought out of cupboards so be sure that smoke detector batteries are working well.

To keep winter energy bills in check, stop heat from your cosy home escaping through any draughts around windows and doors to the outside. Check their seals and make sure your weatherproof strips are doing their job.

American celebrity TV handyman Bob Vila has more tips for a pre-winter house check:

  • examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay. Repair or replace framing to maintain structural integrity
  • if you have a fireplace, have someone check the flue system to ensure that it is clean and that there aren’t any cracks that could cause a fire hazard. Also check the fireplace for draughts
  • make sure fans are switched to the reverse or clockwise position, which will move warm air downwards
  • if you haven’t had your roof inspected for a while, get someone to check for missing, damaged or warped tiles and other roofing material
  • check for deteriorated flashing at the chimney, walls, around windows, doors ,and skylights and around vent pipes
  • ensure all vents and openings are covered to prevent insects, birds, possums and rodents from getting inside to nest in a warm place

  • trim overgrown trees back from the house to prevent wind-swept branches from causing property damage or a power problem.

Do you have any other useful tips for preparing your home for winter weather?

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