It’s still beautiful and warm outside, but don’t be fooled. The changing leaves and the shorter days are a sure sign that winter is on the way. Winter brings many charms, like warm snuggly jumpers, cosy evenings in front of the fire and brisk walks in the crisp winter sunshine. It can also bring wild weather and storms. Without proper maintenance, your home may not be able to withstand an onslaught of rain and hail.
Tackle the to-do list now, on the other hand, and your winter will be cosier, safer and much more comfortable.
1. Clean your gutters
Once the autumn leaves have fallen and the trees are bare, that’s your cue to get out the ladder or hire a professional. Gutters clog easily this time of year thanks to falling debris. This causes blockages, which in turn can cause leaks around the eaves that can come through your ceiling and walls.
Make sure gutters are free of debris before the winter storms start. That will help heavy rains run harmlessly off your roof and onto the garden instead. While you’re up there, check for rusty downpipes or guttering. These should be repaired or replaced, as they won’t be up to the task in a rain or hailstorm.
2. Check your ventilation
When the temperature drops, our instinct is to close all the doors and windows and cocoon inside. However, you can be too protected from the elements. Warm air and a lack of ventilation can cause a build up of condensation. This sits on windowsills and other woodwork, causing warping. In extreme cases, poor ventilation can also cause a build up of mildew or black mould, which can be harmful to health.
Check that your wall vents are clear of lint and other blockages, and consider leaving the windows open a crack to keep air circulating. An exhaust fan in the bathroom is a must, since hot steamy showers can cause serious moisture build up. You can also purchase a dehumidifier, which will reduce condensation, get rid of musty odours and keep down common allergens.
3. Drive out draughts
Air flow is all very well, but nobody wants winter breezes whistling around the lounge room. Now is the ideal time to check for cracks and openings that can cause chilly draughts.
Seal cracks in the architraves around windows with gap filler. Foam seals are excellent on doors where there are gaps between the door and the door jamb. Draught stoppers work well to close up gaps between the base of the door and the floor. If your floorboards have cracks, try a product like Selleys No More Gaps, which can be used as a filler and then sanded back to a smooth finish.
4. Check your heating
If your hot water service is making odd noises, don’t put off calling a plumber until winter. Autumn is when regular servicing and maintenance should be on the list.
Homes with a wood fire should consider when they last cleaned out their chimney. This should be done regularly, or whenever you see a build up of creosote in the chimney. Gas fires may also need regular servicing depending on the type and how often you use it. These can be messy and/or complicated jobs, so consider hiring a professional.
5. Clean and pack away summer clothing
If you’re in Queensland or the Northern Territory, feel free to disregard this one. For those of us in colder climates, it’s almost time to bid farewell to floaty summer dresses and your favourite shorts.
Storing off-season clothes is a great way to free up space in your wardrobe, but it’s important to clean them first. Clothes moths are attracted to sweat, so if your clothes aren’t scrupulously clean you may find they’re worse for wear by spring. Gather up everything you’re planning to stash away and run them through one more wash cycle. Make sure they’re completely dry before storing on a shelf, under-bed drawer or vacuum bag.
6. Clean and pack away garden furniture
Barbecues and garden furniture are also about to head into hibernation. Unless you’re a particularly hardy soul, chances are you won’t be eating al fresco in the depths of winter. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your furniture and equipment are safely stored away from the elements. Barbecues and smokers left outside can rust, taking years off their lives. Unless you’re lucky enough to have an all-weather covered al fresco area, this is another autumn job that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Thoroughly clean any cooking equipment, wiping down the inside and outside before covering it and moving it to the shed. Wipe down your garden furniture and cover that as well. If you have soft furnishings, such as cushions, check them for spots and stains before moving to a dry place.
With all the jobs squared away early, you can sit back with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the winter in comfort.