Autumn maintenance checks for your home and garden
Thu 14 Sep 2017
As autumn arrives it’s a good idea to finish all of the outside jobs before the cold weather sets in. This Autumn Maintenance Check Guide helps to ensure that you carry out all those end-of-the-year jobs that will protect and preserve your home and garden as we enter the colder wetter autumn season.
Now is the time to check your heating is working. Don’t wait until you need it, give it a trial-run in autumn to make sure that it is working properly. This means that if you need repairs to your boiler or heating system you can book it in before you really miss your central heating. It’s also handy to do this now as most plumbers’ prices rise during the winter.
Book a Central Heating Service
Preparing for the cold weather should be done now and your boiler, or other heating should be serviced (by a competent, registered person) in summer or autumn. Do not wait for cold weather to find out that something is not working properly.
Heating engineers get really busy at the beginning of the cold winter weather, as customers turn on their heating and find a pump has seized or a pilot light won’t light.
Beat the rush by booking your annual boiler service in the summer months. If you haven’t yet had your boiler serviced, it isn’t too late to find a registered local engineer.
Expansion Tank Maintenance
If you have a feed and expansion tank in the loft you can carry out a simple test to make sure it’s working well, by moving the float arm up and down a couple of times while watching to check the valve lets in water and then shuts the water off.
This means you can carry out your own repairs or it will at least can save you time and money by finding the fault with your heating system before you call a heating engineer.
Autumn is a good time to top up your home insulation.
Do you know how much loft insulation you should have? While you are in the loft, make sure you have a depth of at least 270mm of loft insulation.
Make sure it is laid away from the roof eaves to let in air for loft ventilation, and prevent damp via condensation.
Stop the Drafts in Your Home
Check all door and window draught proofing, including the letter box.
Adding a threshold strip to external doors is quick and easy way to stop draughts and save money on heating.
Check Ventilation to Stop Condensation
Autumn is a time that we tend to shut up our houses and the resulting lack of ventilation can cause condensation.
In older houses with solid walls, the appearance of damp in the colder months is common. This is usually caused by condensation. Condensation can be reduced greatly by making sure rooms are well-ventilated and extractor fans are installed.
Clear Drains, Gutters and Gullies
In late autumn, when the leaves have fallen, remove leaves and other blockages from drains and gullies, and clean and repair leaking gutters and down pipes. This prevents rainwater running down your walls and soaking into brick, stone, timber and render.
While these surfaces will resist damp if they are in good condition if they become soaked over long periods of time they may allow water into the house, especially if the surface is damaged by freeze thaw action.
Use binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens to check the condition of your roof. If you have cracked or slipped tiles, damaged flashing, or valleys and gullies that are full of debris, you will need to hire scaffolding to carry out maintenance. Otherwise you should get quotes from reputable roofing companies to carry out repairs before the damage becomes more serious.
Check Outside Taps
If you have an external tap, make sure both the pipes and tap itself is insulated to prevent freezing.
Fit a Water Butt
There is unlikely to be a shortage of water over the winter period, but you can take advantage of seasonal special offers by buying a water butt and fitting it now. It will have plenty of time to fill up over the winter!
Clean Paths, Patios and Decks
Get the pressure washer out or scrub some anti-fungal cleaner onto paved and decked areas to help to prevent them from being slippery when they are wet.
Fences, decks and sheds will survive the winter months much better if they are treated to repel the rain and damp air.
Clean and oil the deck with proprietary deck treatment. Or you can apply decking stain after you have thoroughly cleaned the timber to remove dirt, moss and algae.
Sheds and fences can be stained or painted to make them more weatherproof, and they will also look more “cared for”. You can completely change the look of you garden shed by applying different paint finishes.
It is much nicer to come home to some lighting when the evenings are dark, so consider fitting a PIR light near your front door or garage to light your way home.
If you already have exterior lighting fitted don’t forget to check they are in working order and the bulbs are working.
Darker nights mean your home is more vulnerable to burglary so check all the door and window locks are working properly.
You should also ensure your shed, garage and any outbuildings are fitted with suitable locks to deter burglars.
Chimneys and Flues
You should have your chimney swept and flues checked to make sure you can use them safely when the nights get colder.
You might want to think about fitting a woodburner which is a more efficient way of heating a room than using an open fire, and still gives you the cosy feeling of having a real flame fire.
Adapted from The DIY Doctor Home Improvement Hub by Sally