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Preparing the house for autumn

As the temperatures drop and the nights get longer, we spend more and more time inside our homes. Don’t get caught out and do a quick check up on various elements of your house to stay warm and dry this winter, recommend the Winkworth Country House team.

Book your boiler an MOT

Boilers should be serviced annually, no matter how new they are; it’s worth bearing in mind that a well-maintained boiler will burn less fuel. In order to try and control energy costs and consumption, have a think about investing in new technology such as smart thermostats or even installing hardware from companies like Accuheat that makes it possible to control the flow through each radiator, therefore choosing which rooms to heat and which to leave.

 

Clean out your gutters

Everyone will have noticed that we are experiencing wetter winters in the UK than before. Gutters should be in a fit state to drain thousands of litres of water from the roof every year. As leaves fall, gutters, downpipes and drains can get clogged with debris. There are various risks: eventually there’ll be water ingress damaging the exterior and interior walls and, if a gutter is blocked and the outside temperature drops below zero, any water inside could freeze, expand and pull away from the building.
At the same time, check your vents. Air bricks and air vents are vital for ensuring a healthy air flow throughout the home as a build-up of condensation can cause further damage to interiors, and lead to health issues. Take a stiff hand brush and clear the vents of any debris and spiders’ webs.

 

Do a quick roof inspection

Look out for any broken or missing slates, tiles or flashings as these can lead to internal leaks. Some people are happy to climb a ladder to do this, others will use a camera with a good telescopic lens while some are resorting to drones. Just watch out for local laws regarding the flying of these even if it’s only on your own property.

 

Check for draughts

Heat loss through windows is responsible for between 25 and 30% heat loss. A good way to check whether there’s a problem is to close a window on a piece of paper. If that piece of paper slides easily, then it’s time to update the self-adhesive draught strips on your window frames. Curtains are among the best draught excluders. Make sure they are lined with a heavy material.
Check any exterior doors, too; if there is a draught coming underneath a door, fit a threshold strip. These are normally made of a soft rubber or foam and they are fitted to the bottom of the door. It can require the door being removed first prior to fitting, so an alternative is to use a traditional excluder that is pushed up against the back of the door.

 

Sweep the chimney

If you’re planning on using any open fires or stoves this winter, have them professionally swept first. Then tackle any remaining soot but lining the area with newspaper and removing all loose ashes and dust with a shovel and brush. A mix of baking soda and warm water on a sponge can help lift any remaining stains from the brickwork.

 

Rescue outside furniture.

Outside furniture should be brought under cover in winter, even when the label attests that it can withstand the harshest of environments. If there’s nowhere suitable to house the furniture over the winter, buy some waterproof furniture covers.

 

Protect any outside taps.

If you have an external tap, make sure both the pipes and tap itself is insulated to prevent freezing. Frozen pipes can easily burst as they thaw.

 

Tend to timber

Wooden fencing, exterior decking and garden sheds need to be regularly treated to repel the rain and damp air.

 

Improve home security

Various studies have found that burglaries spike after the clocks go back at the end of October. Longer nights mean that houses are more vulnerable so be sure to check all the door and window locks are in good working order. Put away any ladders that might offer access to the first-floor windows or flat roofs.

 

Be insured

Now is a good time of year to double check that everything is properly insured, including whether your home is in a flood risk area and requires extra protection against any possible damage from heavy rains and rising water levels over the winter months.

 

Autumn in the countryside: properties for sale

Autumn colours
Set in the charming Hughenden Valley and with direct access to a National Trust-maintained footpath, this double barn conversion is ideal for multi-generational living with one four bedroom family property adjoining a second two-bedroom home all set in a south-facing garden.
£2.4m through Winkworth Beaconsfield.

New Forest walks
This four-bedroom house in the village of Sway lies just a few steps from the New Forest. Built in 2002, it benefits from solar panelling which is currently producing an income of £2,172 a year.
£785,000 through Winkworth Sway.

Picture perfect
A historic Grade II family home that has been carefully renovated by its current owners, Norton House is set in the popular village of Great Hinton near Trowbridge in Wiltshire. It has four bedrooms and an attractive garden.
£645,000 through Winkworth Devizes.

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