Winter’s first cold snap a reminder to do some home maintenance
The first cold snap of winter is a timely reminder that a little preventative winter maintenance could save you some money on expensive repairs.
Your preparations may differ, depending on where you live in the country. Capetonians will need to prepare more for wind and rain, while elsewhere very cold conditions can quickly run up the electricity bill.
Marlies Kappers, head of marketing at DirectAxis, says: “While it is sometimes difficult to afford, home maintenance, is a bit like getting your car serviced. By regularly attending to little things, you can avoid big costs in future.”
For an infographic on routine home maintenance visit: https://www.directaxis.co.za/topics-tips-tools/a-guide-to-home-maintenance
While opinions vary about what comprises a good winter prep list, most experts agree that no matter whether you live in a summer- or winter- rainfall area cold is the common seasonal denominator.
Check for drafts under doors, around window frames and other openings. While these may circulate cool air around the house in summer, they’ll let cold in and heat out during winter.
Fit strips under poorly sealed doors or make an under-door-draft stopper; one of those long material tubes filled with sand or something similar that you can use to keep out the cold. According to some sustainability websites, sealing external doors can reduce warm air leakage by 12%.
Similarly check window seals and ensure panes are properly fitted. Replace the seals or putty if they aren’t.
Fitting a geyser blanket will also help reduce your electricity costs as will insulating your roof. If you’re reasonably competent at DIY you may want to research or tackle these tasks yourself. If not it’ll probably pay to get some competitive quotes and get some expert help.
Fireplaces are great for adding some ambiance and warmth to a cold room in winter, but before you light the first winter fire, check the chimney to make sure you don’t burn the house down.
Soot and other residue from fires can build up and block the chimney or catch alight. Birds can build nests in chimneys that haven’t been used for a while, so it’s worth checking for obstructions and other issues. If you are unsure about whether your chimney is sooted up or how to remove blockages, finding a chimney sweep should be as easy as a Google search.
Obvious outside maintenance, particularly if you live in a winter-rainfall area, is cleaning your gutters. Not only are clogged gutters ineffective, but the weight of soggy leaves could break the gutter completely, resulting in a costly repair bill. Remember gutters are there for a reason: they prevent expensive foundation damage by keeping water away from your house.
While you have the ladder out, check the roof to see if any tiles are broken or missing or if there’s any other damage.
Perhaps less obvious but as important is making sure that strong winds don’t blow trees or other structures onto the house or damage things such as satellite dishes. Cut down rotten or dead trees and cut or prune branches near television aerials or dishes. Be sensible about your abilities as a DIY lumberjack. If it’s a large tree or branch, get some expert help. You don’t want to be the person who fells the tree onto their own house or gets hurt or badly injured because you tried to save a few rand by doing it yourself.
Smaller, practical steps you can take are covering garden or stoep furniture that you won’t be using during winter, to avoid having to refurbish or replace it the next summer.
“Not only can regular, common-sense maintenance save you money in the long-run, but this and small improvements to your home can maintain or add to its value,” says Marlies.