With the colder weather on its way, now’s the time to take action and start preparing for the long nights ahead. There are some jobs that can be done all year round but others require a bit of forward planning to make sure that you’re not left shivering in the cold. Here are the four things you should be tackling this month.
Roof – carry out checks and maintenance
Now’s the time to stop a leaky roof in its tracks and save mad bucket dashes in the middle of the night. Start off by heading to the attic if you have one and check the underside of the roof while it’s raining or just after to see if any water is getting through. Do the same thing for the chimney – believe it or not, chimney leaks are the more common of the two.
Once you’re done, take things outside and look up at your roof from the ground, using a pair of binoculars. Check for cracked, missing or curled up tiles (clay cracks a lot more easily than concrete) and damage to fascias, soffits and metal flashing in valleys and around vents. If you spot large amounts of granules building up in your gutters, chances are your roof is losing its coating and problems may be right around the corner!
If you can’t spot signs of damage, it’s a good idea to get a roofer in anyway to give it a good clean. Regular cleaning keeps a roof well-maintained and wards off damage. If you’ve got a wooden or thatch roof, this is all the more important as slate and metal roofs tend to need less TLC to keep them in good condition.
Gutters – check your gutters before winter rolls in
Leaves can block gutters in the autumn leading to overflowing issues and penetrating damp. Making sure that they’re clear and covered with mesh guards to stop further build-up will prevent damage to both the exterior and interior of your home. Your roof’s drainage system diverts water from the outside of your home and your foundation walls so interrupting this process is a recipe for disaster! You can clear gutters yourself by scooping out leaves and other debris and rinsing them with a hose but if you’re having your roof seen to by a roofer, you can save time and money by having them cleared at the same time.
Fireplace & chimney avoid blocked chimneys and carbon monoxide poisoning
Blocked chimneys can cause fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, which can ultimately lead to death. Something so innocent as a bird’s nest can block the top of a flue and pose a danger. If you haven’t already, speak to a specialist tradesperson to install a chimney cap and stop this from happening.
Now’s the best time to get your chimney cleaned by a professional before the temperature drops and your fireplace becomes your new best friend! A good tradesperson will do a thorough check, looking for things like soot and creosote build-up (a flammable by-product of burning wood) but you can also carry out a visual check yourself using a pair of binoculars. Check for a chimney that’s crumbling or leaning to one side and loose or broken joints on brick chimneys as these are often warning signs that your chimney and fireplace might not be in good working order. You can also give the damper a workout by moving the metal plate which opens and closes the flue and making sure that it’s working as it should.
A chimney and fireplace inspection is one of those jobs that’s easily forgotten but when lives are at stake, it’s well worth making the time and effort to give your system the once-over – especially as it only needs doing once a year!
Boiler- book an annual boiler check by a registered heating engineer
Before we switch our boilers back on, it’s time for a quick boiler check to make sure that they’re safe and running efficiently. Just like with a fireplace and chimney, if they’re not working as they should, carbon monoxide can enter your home and prove fatal. A quick way to see if your boiler poses an immediate threat is to take a look at its flame. A bright blue flame is healthy but a yellow or orange flame should be an alert to call in a heating engineer sooner rather than later!
It’s not just about the danger they pose either. We see a big spike in boiler jobs every year where people have turned theirs on for the first time and they’ve failed them! Get ahead of the crowd and book yours in for an annual service. This is one job that screams “don’t turn to DIY”! Only Gas Safe registered engineers can legally carry out gas work – that’s why we only let Gas Safe registered engineers sign up to Rated People. Check that a tradesperson’s qualification is still in date and ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID card which has their ID number at the top before you let them work on your boiler. You can quickly input the ID number on the official Gas Safe Register website to make sure that they’re legally qualified to carry out the work.