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Getting ready to hibernate – autumn property checklist

21/11/22Getting ready to hibernate – autumn property checklist

November is the time of year when property owners’ minds turn towards winter. This may include carrying out repairs to buildings, or it may mean having a thorough exploration of the property and its grounds to identify faults. A mental checklist of what to look for is important. Ideally, any maintenance and repair work will have been carried out in the good weather of summer months. But that’s not always possible or convenient.

Change in the weather

As the weather turns more wintry, with stronger winds and more rainfall, problems that may not be apparent in the summer will make themselves known. A good example of this is a leaking roof. Over the summer, the weather will be drier and warmer, and any potential problems with the roof may be masked by decent weather. However, the sun – especially the long stretches of very hot weather we’ve been having in recent years – can cause as much damage to roofs as wind and rain. They can dry out and crack the felt and mortar, which can lead to water getting into cracks and crevices. To mitigate against such damage, the roof of your property and any outbuildings will need to be checked over before winter. It’s best to seek expert help in this, and contact a contractor who can offer advice and carry out the work.

External checks

Whether your roof covering is tiles, slates, lead, felt or something else, it’s well worth checking it over thoroughly. This will require a ladder or sometimes, depending on accessibility, a small staging or scaffolding. Pay particular attention to areas where water can lie. These include flat roofs, which if they are not laid to a slight pitch will provide the chance for water to pool. Check all the seals are secure on flat roofs too, towards the edges and where the strips of felt overlap, and that there’s no bubbling or cracking to the felt. Also check any lead flashings – where the roof or chimney joins the roof covering – and the mortar verges up the edge of the roof too. Any bits of mortar that are missing will need to be replaced and repointed, and flashings replaced. You must look for obvious faults too, such as slipped or broken slates or tiles. These can allow water to leak into the roof space, which might not be apparent from an external check. 

Inside jobs

An easy way to carry out a quick check is to climb into your loft space and see if any watermarks, runs or drips are visible from water leaking in. While you’re up there, you can make sure the roof insulation is in good condition too, or if any extra needs to be fitted. Most properties have been fitted with roofing insulation these days, but occasionally old properties may have missed out and will need some installing. Roof insulation will make a massive difference to your energy bills too – as will lagging pipes in accessible parts of your loft. So, it’s important to make sure that jobs like this are carried out now, before the colder weather begins and the central heating starts up. You’ll need to get your boiler serviced before the winter and if you have fireplaces, you may need to get your chimneys swept before they are used again.

Outdoor chores

If you have a garden or land surrounding your property, there will also be jobs there too. You might have to repair or secure any fencing. It’s worth lopping any trees as they lose their leaves, especially if they are growing taller and are overhanging your neighbours’ properties or your own. Trim hedges back of any new growth and clear away fallen leaves. Probably the most overlooked – but dreaded and essential – job that will need to be carried out on your property is to clean out the gutters. It’s not a pleasant job and access can be a problem. But blocked guttering can impact all the rainwater drainage at your property. This can include the leaves blocking the guttering itself, causing water to spill over and damage the fascia. It can also mean the leaves clog up downpipes and consequently the grids beneath them, which can flood paths, drives, patios and yards.

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