Winter home maintenance: Put your house in order

Winter home maintenance is a serious threat when homes are in a state of disrepair. Also, with the big chill fast approaching it could be time to do a bit of DIY. So, you don’t end up ­thousands of pounds out of pocket.

One in 10 homes is in need of significant improvement. Also, half require minor work to get them into shape to stand up to a harsh winter. This is according to research by Halifax Home Insurance.

However, overstretched budgets mean that people are putting off essential repairs. A quarter of households has ignored at least one severe winter home maintenance issue. Hense leaving ­themselves vulnerable to heartache and big bills as small problems tend to deteriorate and escalate into major concerns.

Although more than a quarter of homeowners claim they are DIY enthusiasts, a third admit that their skills do not stretch beyond basic cosmetic improvements. Such as painting walls and grouting between tiles.

Most of us lack the confidence to tackle even straightforward maintenance jobs. While it would prevent future problems, such as damp and water damage. Also, lack of winter home maintenance can wreck homes as well as ruin prized personal ­possessions. Hense it can cost hefty amounts to repair and replace.

TV DIY expert Ben Hillman says, “By making some small maintenance checks throughout the year, homeowners can save time and money. Also, ensure the homes maintained properly.

“For example, it can cost £40 to have gutters cleaned, whereas replacing damaged guttering can cost over £550 – and even more regarding hassle.”

While the majority of us are happy to improve our homes with a lick of new paint and some new furniture, many are merely papering over the cracks.

Our homes are a huge investment, and we need to protect that by ensuring we look after them to maintain and even improve their value.

But there is another important factor to consider. Many people don’t realize that even if they have home insurance to cover any disasters along the way. Also failing to keep up with essential repairs can mean that an insurer may not pay out on claims. If they deem them invalid due to lack of maintenance.

Martyn Foulds, a senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance, says. “In winter we tend to think less about our home’s exterior and retreat indoors.

“But some essential checks need to be tried out to see it through the bad weather.

“Prevention is the key because much of the damage could be avoided if householders spend a small amount of time preparing for the bad weather.

“We have found that more than a quarter of people are unaware of what is and isn’t covered by their home insurance policy.

“By failing to properly maintain a property, homeowners risk invalidating their insurance, potentially running up hefty bills if something goes wrong as a result of neglect.”

Our top tips to get your place ready Winter home maintenance


  • Arrange for your boiler to be serviced at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered professional and have the central heating and gas fires checked over.
  • Make sure the loft is insulated properly and has adequate ventilation.
  • Check that all pipes and tanks in the loft
    are lagged.
  • Keep the central heating set to at least 10C to stop pipes freezing, especially when temperatures drop and the big chill arrives. When you are not at home leave heating on for at least an hour a day and for longer during severe weather.
  • Make sure you know where your main stopcock is and can turn it on and off.
  • Call a professional for jobs involving gas, electrics or plumbing. When choosing a tradesman ask for references and certificates.
  • Contact your insurer if any work is being carried out which may alter the structure or layout of your home. Such as an extension, conservatory, loft conversion or garage.
  • Keep an eye on all areas of your house – including the exterior – to check for any problems that might be developing.

Winter home maintenance Outside

  • Check the condition of the roof. Look for cracked or broken tiles, cracks in the chimney or problems with the pointing. If any repairs are needed hire a professional roofing contractor to carry out the work as soon as possible.
  • To reduce the risk of blocks and overflows clear the gutters and drainpipes of any leaves or debris that have built up.
  • Keep gates and outbuilding doors fastened securely and secure any other loose items such as garden furniture.
  • Make sure that pipes in garages and outside pipes to garden taps are lagged.
  • Check that external light fittings are secure.
  • Cut back low-hanging branches that could cause damage in high winds or storms.

Nick’s holiday hell due to lack of Winter Home Maintenance

Nick Cornwall was gutted when he got back from holiday last winter. He found his second bedroom under three inches of water.

“I had only been away for a long weekend and couldn’t believe the mess I came back to,” says Nick, 59, from Chesterfield.

“Luckily it was only a few days, and there was no structural or long-term damage – just a soggy mess to clean up and a huge bill to replace the furniture, carpet and redecorate.”

A pipe had frozen during a big chill the weekend Nick was away. This forced the pipe away from its connection to the washing machine, which resulted in water running continuously onto the floor.

The bedroom in the basement of Nick’s ground- floor flat is sealed so there was nowhere for the water to go.

“To add to the disaster I didn’t have home insurance. You don’t think you need it but when something like this happens, it brings home why it’s important.

“I’ve got it sorted now but hopefully won’t need it,” adds Nick, a landscape gardener.

Nick says this has made him much more aware of home maintenance.

“I do more checks around the flat, keeping an eye on things. I’m more conscious when I get jobs done and ensure I get the experts in to do them properly.

“That flood was a sight I never wish to see again.”

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