One of the best ways to protect the value of your Edinburgh property is to create a proper home-maintenance schedule that you can refer to throughout the year. It will also help you prioritise and take care of the most urgent jobs first. Here are some home-maintenance tips from Edinburgh builder, Mackenzie Hughes to carry out before the worst of the winter weather arrives.
The first home-maintenance task – check you exterior walls
If you’ve neglected to inspect your exterior walls before, now’s the time to do so. Make sure any vents aren’t blocked to allow hot air to escape. This will reduce condensation in your home. If your walls need repointing, wait until spring or summer when it’s warmer, especially if using lime mortar. Don’t be tempted to plug up gaps with a cement-based mortar or caulking. This will only trap moisture already inside which could cause damp.
Outdoor taps and electrics
If you don’t use your outdoor tap during winter, shut off the water supply and drain it by leaving your tap in the ‘on’ position. This will prevent any water inside freezing and expanding. If you’re still planning to use your outside tap you can buy a simple insulating jacket instead from most online gardening stores or Amazon but make sure you lag the pipe which leads to the tap.
Gutters and drains
One of the top tasks to add to your winter home-maintenance list is to check your gutters and drains. Remove debris and leaves otherwise rain-water may overflow and soak your walls leading to damp. If any section of your gutter is cracked or leaks, have it repaired now and make sure that any overflows lead away from the walls. If the weather becomes particularly cold after a wet-spell check the gutters often for ice dams forming and remove them.
Replace cracked or missing tiles and check the ceiling inside your attic for water stains which would indicate a leaky roof. Check skylights for leaks around the edges and re-seal if necessary. If there is a heavy snow fall, remove the snow from the roof if safe and practical to do so. This will stop rainwater possibly seeping between roof tiles as the snow thaws.
If you have an open fire or multi-fuel stove, have your chimney professionally swept to minimise the risk of fire. Put cowls on your chimney pots to avoid rain coming in or smoke being blown back down. If you have open and unused chimney pots, consider putting a cap on them.
Homes are now warmer than every ever before thanks to UPVC and aluminium double and triple-glazed windows. However, this can lead to litres of condensation being trapped inside which can lead to dampness. Ensure your home has adequate ventilation even in the coldest of winters and open your windows every day to lower humidity.
Windows made from modern materials require little, if any maintenance but if you own a period home with the original, wooden sash and case windows, you will need to re-paint them every five years or so. It’s best to list this as a summer task and take care of it before the existing top coat of paint starts to peel. However, if you’ve neglected to do this and your windows show signs of wear and tear it’s best to do it now before the bad weather causes damage to the frames.
Remove only the top coat of paint with a light sanding. This will preserve the layers of paint beneath which ensure a record of the property’s history. After a light sanding to make a key, a wash down with sugar soap before repainting may be all that is necessary. It there are gaps between the frame and the wall you may need to apply a putty. Before carrying out any maintenance on a period home it’s best to speak to a period home restoration expert for the best advice.
Check that your extractor fan is working in the bathroom. As the colder nights draw in the humid air needs to be removed to avoid damp problems. If your fan isn’t as effective as it could be, open your window to allow steam to escape. Cast your eye over the grout in your shower area too and fix it if required to avoid water leaking behind your tiles.
Plumbing and heating
Have a Gas Safe heating company to inspect your boiler to ensure it’s in working order. This should be done on an annual basis so it’s best to take out plumbing and heating cover. It will be cheaper than the cost of a call-out charge should anything go wrong with your boiler.
A wood-burning stove is a beautiful and welcome addition to your home but as with all open flame fires, carbon monoxide may be produced to make sure your carbon monoxide detector is in working order. Check that your smoke detectors are also in good working order. You should add this to your monthly home-maintenance task list as a rule of thumb. The ROSPA website will give you more tips on fire prevention in the home.
Bleed your radiators to remove air bubbles and ensure the water flows freely. If you leave the house empty for long periods, leave your central heating on at around 10 degrees. This will stop your house becoming cold during the worst weather and will help avoid frozen pipes.
Finally, make sure your water pipes are lagged and find out where your stop-valve is in case of an emergency.