7 steps to prepare your home for winter weather.

Your home can take a bit of a battering in the British winter, but here’s how to make sure the wet and cold weather stays on the outside.

It’s important to do some checks and preparation around the home before winter sets in. Not only will it help you keep warm and cosy, but it can help prevent potentially expensive damage, too.

Here’s a checklist to help you know what to do…

Leaves cleared from a roof gutter.
Step 1

Clear your gutters

Fallen leaves and debris can block your gutters. Then, instead of rainwater running through your downpipes and into the drains, it runs down your outside walls, causing damp on the inside. So it’s important to clear your gutters out after autumn, when most of the leaves will have fallen.

While you (or whoever you get to do it) are up the ladder, remember to check the roof for any damaged or loose tiles that you might need to get sorted, too.

Step 2

Get your boiler serviced

The last thing you want in winter is for your boiler to break down. Nobody wants a cold shower, especially not in the winter!

No thank you!

So it’s important to get your boiler serviced by a professional once a year – ideally just before winter sets in, when you’re going to be using it the most.

A serviced boiler will work efficiently, keeping you warm and saving you money on heating in the long-run. If it’s a relatively new boiler, you’ll need to have an annual service to maintain the warranty. And remember, if your boiler is more than 15 years old, it should really be replaced altogether.

Step 3

Bleed your radiators

Make sure you stay toasty all winter long by bleeding your radiators. This allows any air bubbles trapped inside to be released, so the hot water can flow freely through your pipes, ensuring your radiators are at their most effective.

It’s easy enough to do yourself – simply check out some “How to” videos online.

Step 4

Protect your pipes

When it gets really cold, the water in your pipes can freeze. If this happens, the building pressure inside could cause a pipe to burst. And if it happens when you’re away, it can result in large amounts of damage.

To avoid this, leave your heating on for an hour a day, to keep everything warm and moving around. Also, make sure your pipes – especially those that are outside or in the loft space – are well insulated with pipe lagging or jackets, which can be bought at most DIY stores or online.

If you’re away for a longer period of time, you could shut the water off altogether. Simply locate your stop cock – it’s a tap or a lever normally found under the kitchen sink or under the stairs – and turn it clockwise to switch it off. Then run your taps until the water left in the pipes runs out.

Step 5

Make sure everything is secure

Winter winds and storms can cause havoc outside your home; from branches falling onto electric wires, to wheelie bins crashing into your car.

So do a scout around outside your home and in the garden, for anything that might come
loose in a gale.

Tie up any loose fencing, trim hanging branches (or get a tree surgeon in if it’s a big tree), secure your bins, and make sure any garden furniture or tools are locked up in a secured shed or garage.

Step 6

Sweep the chimney

Nothing beats a roaring open fire on a winter’s day, but with the ongoing trend for burners and stoves it's important the make sure the chimney is clean and safe.

Clogged-up flues can mean dangerous gases won’t escape properly, and will be left to linger in your home. Also, a build-up of creosote, which is found in wood smoke, can cause a chimney fire. So call in a chimney sweep to get it sorted.

Step 7

Check your home insurance

Have a read through your home insurance documents, to double check what is covered. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, or you’re in the path of a particularly big storm, it’s worth giving your insurance provider a call to discuss your options.