How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

As temperatures begin to drop during the winter months, preparing your home for those snaps of cold weather can make life a lot easier. There are a number of both indoor and outdoor jobs that can be done in advance to make your winter a happier one!

Winter-Proofing Outdoors

Cleaning Out Your Gutters
During autumn, vegetation dies down for the winter, resulting in falling leaves; these can be blown just about anywhere and it is not uncommon for a large number to end up in the gutter. When mixed with rain water, the leaves break down forming a type of sludge that quickly clogs the gutter and drains. The purpose of a gutter is to protect a building’s exterior and foundations from water damage and blocked gutters can lead to problems that are expensive to resolve. During the winter months, the water in a blocked gutter can freeze, creating a dam that prevents the drains from working properly and ultimately causing water damage.

Salt Grit
When temperatures drop to below 0°c and water freezes to ice, places such as walkways in your back and front garden can become hazardous. Ice is extremely slippery; sprains and fractures caused by falls on ice are surprisingly common during the cold weather months and can be especially dangerous for the elderly. Using salt grit can prevent accidents from happening.
Salt grit is basically salt from a salt mine, with some grit added to it to cause more friction. Salt dissolves the ice into water and lowers its freezing point. Provided you keep an eye on the weather forecast and remember to salt walkways before it freezes, accidents can be prevented.

Lighting
Winter brings with it less daylight and more hours of darkness; this is another common cause of accidents outside the home. Installing outdoor lighting is a great way to prevent accidents such as stumbling over whilst carrying your shopping bags. There is a vast selection to choose from, with LED lights that withstand heavy rain and snow, motion sensor lights and more. As outdoor lights are designed to stay on for longer periods, we recommend buying economical energy-saving lights.

Snow Tools

Snow Shovels
Snow shovels are a must for your winter tool shed, and are available in long handled and short handled versions. For thicker, heavier snow, the long handled snow shovel is more effective and less tiring.

Ice Scrapers
An extendible snow brush/scraper is not only essential for those days when you need help digging the car out of a snow drift, but they can also be used to remove snow from doors and windows.

Winter-Proofing Indoors

Insulation
A considerable amount of heat can be lost through roofs, lofts and wall cavities – as much as 25%. This is not only extremely uneconomical but also costly, with the ever-increasing prices of energy. Insulating your property is a valuable investment. There are several different types of loft insulation available on the market these days and each has its own pros and cons. The type of building you live in also makes a difference; a brick house may require different insulation to a 200 year old sandstone house situated on the southwest coast, in an area prone to bouts of heavy driving rain.

Batts or Blanket / Loft Insulation
Batts or blanket / Loft insulation comes in rolls; these can be rolled out onto the loft floor or ceiling, and are relatively easy to install. This is one of the most common types of insulation as well as being one of the most economical. It’s usually made from fibreglass, a man-made fibre from recycled glass that’s both fire and water resistant, providing a high level of insulation. Fibre glass irritates the skin and lungs, so protective clothing is essential when working with it. There are alternatives to fibreglass such as Rockwool insulation, mineral wool insulation or sheep wool insulation; however the alternatives are generally more expensive.

Loose Fill
Made from cellulose insulation, rock wool fibres or mineral wool fibres, loose fill is good for insulating inaccessible areas. It is however, more difficult to install and requires more protective safety equipment.

Sheet Loft Insulation
This comes in the form of boards and is specifically designed for insulating the sides of the roof. It can be cut to size and covered with plasterboard, giving it a more attractive finish. It also has a very high insulating value-per-unit thickness but this does add to the price, making it a more expensive type of insulation.

Multifuel or Woodburning Stoves

If you own a multifuel or woodburning stove or furnace, make sure it is well prepared before the cold weather hits. This includes having it cleaned and ensuring that you have adequate fuel.

Firewood/Fuels
For those lucky enough to have a fireplace or a stove, it is important to have a stock of fuel for the winter months. Firewood and any other type of smokeless fuel must be kept dry.
It may sound like a long list, but done in stages, preparing your home for the winter shouldn’t be a difficult task. Once you are all set and the cold weather hits, you can snuggle up in the comfort of your home and relax without having to worry. Prepare your house for a cosy winter today, with advice from the experts at Huws Gray.

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