Preparing your home for winter

When the days start getting shorter and the temperature drops, there’s nothing better than getting cosy at home and enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire. But it’s important to remember that the winter chill can put a real strain on our houses, triggering problems such as frozen pipes, broken boilers and blocked drains. Follow our handy hints to make sure your home is fully equipped for the colder months, and ready to cope with anything winter may throw at it.

    Put kitchen foil behind your radiators

    Placing kitchen foil behind radiators all over the house will reflect the heat coming from them back into each room. This will help you to stay warm and save you money on your energy bills.

      Keep blinds and curtains closed

      It's easy to lose warmth through small cracks in your windows, so close your blinds and curtains as soon as you get home in the evenings to trap the heat.

        Use salt and warm water to unblock drains

        So you're not faced with the problem of a burst pipe, use salt and water to unblock any troublesome drains. Salt is naturally good at scouring surfaces, which will help to get rid of any grime lurking in the pipes.

          Be prepared for power cuts

          Power cuts are a pain at the best of times, but they're particularly inconvenient during the winter. Make sure you're prepared for a power outage by keeping all your candles, matches and torches in one place - and don't forget to buy batteries.

            Keep the heating on low

            Turning the heating off while you're out could cause your pipes to freeze. To avoid this, keep the central heating on low when you leave the house, and open all internal doors. You can also avoid frozen pipes and tanks by keeping the hatch to your attic ajar.

              Use cat litter to clear ice off your paths

              Icy driveways are an endless source of frustration during the chillier months, but putting down cat litter can make a huge difference. What's more, unlike salt, it won't kill your plants.

                Bleed your radiators

                Trapped air in your radiator can cause noisy gurgles and prevent heat from circulating properly. You can solve this by bleeding all your radiators to release the air and warm up your home more efficiently.

                  Look after your fish pond

                  So that your pond doesn't freeze over when the winter chill sets in, there's a handy trick you can try. Place a tennis ball in the middle of the pond, as this will slow the formation of ice. If it does freeze over, remove the tennis ball to create an oxygen hole for your plants and fish.

                    Check your hot water

                    Winter is the worst time of year to start experiencing difficulties with your hot water supply, but luckily there are some checks you can do to nip the problem in the bud. These include:

                    • Checking the boiler to see if the pilot light is on. To re-light it, follow the instructions in the manual or on the side of the boiler itself.
                    • Making sure there's power going to the boiler by checking all the switches are on.
                    • Trying a new fuse in the plug. You may also want to check the hot water thermostat is on and set to 'high'.
                    • Calling in a professional - if you've tried all the above and are still experiencing issues, this may be necessary.

                    Check your home insurance

                    Winter is a popular time for making home insurance claims, with maintenance problems cropping up for many at this time for year. Hopefully you won’t need to make a claim, but just in case you do, check your home insurance policy is up to date.

                    If you are ever in doubt about how to look after your home during the winter months, particularly when it comes to your heating, contact a specialist.

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