10 ways to winter-proof your home

They say you should fix the roof when the sun is shining.


Not sure who ‘they’ are, but they’d probably also recommend spending some time preparing your property for the ravages of the winter long before those ravages arrive.

So now is a good time to prepare your property for the colder months ahead.

Routine maintenance

OK, you probably don’t want to clean the gutters or service the boiler, but if you carry out some routine maintenance before the cold sets in, you could prevent serious problems such as damp, burst pipes and boiler breakdown.

You could also save yourself some time, money and heartache.

And don’t worry if you’re not a DIY expert. We’ve put together a maintenance checklist to help keep you and your home safe and warm throughout the winter.

1. Check the roof

Cracked or missing tiles can let rain into the roof, potentially causing damp and even rot. If you can’t see the roof from the ground or from a neighbouring property, or don’t want to climb a ladder, arrange for a professional to inspect the roof for you.

If serious damage is caused by ingress of water in this way, you’d be unlikely to succeed with a claim on your buildings insurance policy. This sort of cover is for sudden and unforeseen events, such as storm damage, rather than ongoing problems more akin to wear and tear.

2. Clear gutters and drains

Leaves, plants and other debris can quickly clog gutters and drains, which can lead to water damage. A clear out before winter is essential.

It’s a good idea to check that the gutter junctions are watertight, too.

Again, a claim on your insurance would probably be rejected if water damage arose following a blocked pipe – the insurer would argue that you had not exercised due care.

3. Inspect your pipes

Make sure your boiler is in tip-top condition before winter sets in.

Make sure your property’s downpipes aren’t cracked or split (you can check behind the pipes with a mirror). Also, remove any vegetation that’s grown around the pipes as it can cause damage.

Also make sure water is running freely down the pipes. 

4. Bleed the radiators

Are your radiators colder at the top than the bottom? If so, they probably need bleeding to release the trapped air, particularly if they have been idle over the summer.

It’s a straightforward job – all you need is the key and a towel – but it will increase the efficiency of your heating.

5. Service the boiler

Make sure your boiler is in tip-top condition before winter sets in. After all, you don’t want the heating system to breakdown when the temperature dips below freezing.

An annual service might also be a condition of your guarantee, or any home emergency or boiler cover.

The service should be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Visit www.gassaferegister.co.uk to find a suitably qualified engineer in your area.

Click here to find out more about protecting your boiler and buying breakdown cover.

6. Switch energy tariff

Our utility bills are bigger in the winter, but that’s no reason to pay over the odds for your energy.

You can compare prices quickly and easily with MoneySuperMarket’s free comparison service - and there’s still time to switch to a cheaper deal before it gets really cold. 

7. Sweep the chimney

A roaring fire can be a joy in the winter – unless it’s a chimney fire.

People often underestimate the risks of chimney fires, but they are common around this time of year and can be costly and dangerous. You should therefore employ a professional to sweep the chimney before you light the first fire of the year.

If you’ve got a chimney but don’t light the fire, consider using a chimney balloon to prevent hot air escaping upwards and cold draughts sweeping down.

8. Insulate your home properly

Adequate insulation can reduce the heat loss from your home, thereby conserving energy and cutting household bills.

The loft is a good place to start as you can lose a quarter of the heat in your home through the roof if the loft is not properly insulated.

You might also want to consider cavity wall insulation, if your property is suitable. And don’t forget to insulate the water tank and lag the pipes.

We’ve got a suite of guides that will provide you with information and guidance on insulation and other energy-related topics.

9. Check windows and doors

If your doors and windows are in a poor state of repair they can let in cold air and rain water.

It can therefore make economic sense to carry out any minor repairs now before you have to pay to fix a serious problem later on.

Check the woodwork outside – including upper floors – for rot and damage.

10. Dig out your insurance documents

You probably already have buildings insurance in place, but it might be worth reading the small print of your policy to make sure you are covered for any winter emergencies.

You might also want to compare prices on our website to see if you can find a cheaper deal.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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