Winterising your house

tailpipes on snowy roofs

Frost, gales and snow are a severe test for any home during the cold months of the year. Here are ten things you can do to ensure the highest degree of cosiness and safety.

Extreme weather conditions have always represented a danger to property, even well before climate change became a major topic of concern. But the increasing frequency thereof, particularly in winter, exposes homeowners to an even greater risk of costly damage. That’s why precautionary measures are particularly important. Here are ten ways that you can minimise the risks.

  1. Check the roof

Of course, roofs have to withstand everything the weather throws at them. So make sure your roof is completely watertight. In addition to examining the roof area, also take a look at the flashing around chimneys, windows or dormers. A pair of binoculars can prove extremely useful.

  1. Clean the gutters

When nearby trees lose their foliage, many leaves find a new home in your guttering, thus clogging up downpipes and causing overflows during heavy rainfall. Once you’ve cleaned the gutters, it is recommended that you check for any cracks or holes that could allow water to run down the outside walls and cause additional damage.

  1. Check for cracks in exterior walls

Cracks in plaster or mortar joints urgently need to be repaired before moisture has a chance to penetrate the wall. Frosty nights can cause this water to expand, leading to further damage.

  1. Close and drain outside taps

The same problem as above, water expanding when it freezes, is a frequent cause of bursts in outside taps and supply pipes. So make sure you close off the stopcock in the house and open the outside tap.

  1. Bleed the radiators

If one of your radiators isn’t getting warm enough when the cold weather arrives, it could mean there is air trapped inside. You can easily release the trapped air (known as “bleeding” the radiator) by opening the radiator valve using a special key (available for next to nothing in any DIY store). Remember to hold a receptacle under the valve to catch any oily drips of water. If water fails to squirt out, then check the pressure level in the boiler.

  1. Replenish stocks of firewood

A wood-burning stove or fireplace creates a really cosy atmosphere. They burn all the better if you’ve remembered to stock up on firewood far enough in advance, and brought it inside to dry out properly.

  1. Check window seals

Poorly sealed windows enable heat to escape from the house, push up heating costs and expose occupants to the risk of draughts. All this can be easily prevented by applying sealing strips purchased from a DIY store. These are also available for draught-proofing the bottoms of doors.

  1. Move plant pots and containers to a frost-free location

Many plant containers are not frost-proof, particularly those attractive pots made of terracotta. If temperatures don’t fall too low, placing them directly next to the wall of the house will offer adequate protection. During a severe frost, however, they need to be moved to the basement.

  1. Protect garden furniture

Whether it’s made of wood, metal or plastic – winter isn’t kind to garden furniture. If you don’t have enough space to store furniture in the basement or garden shed, you can at least protect it with waterproof covers.

  1. Make sure you have the right winter equipment

When the winter weather arrives, many people find themselves rushing to the DIY store to buy snow shovels, brushes or grit. However, if you check your winter equipment in autumn, waking up to a few inches of snow won’t create any hectic or stress. Please note that spreading salt on pavements or driveways is forbidden in most areas of Germany and may incur a fine.

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