So far, so good, the run-up to this winter remains reasonably mild. But who knows what the weather has to bring once the days are past their shortest and storms, floods, ice and snow begin to take their toll.
If you have let property, you are almost certain to have landlord insurance, but remember that even with this essential degree of protection, you are still expected to play your part in mitigating any loss or damage caused by the elements. In other words, your insurer has every right to insist that you keep your property in a good state of repair, ensuring that essential maintenance is done in a regular and timely fashion.
With the time left before the worst of the winter has chance to set in, therefore, what are some of the most useful maintenance tasks you might do?
Gutters and other rainwater goods
- they tend to be overlooked – perhaps because they are relatively inexpensive – but in the winter time it is especially important to keep gutters and other rainwater goods clean, free of debris and allowing good drainage;
- check that gutters are soundly fixed and free of leaves;
- make sure that none of your property’s drainage pipes is blocked;
- Read our out article on How to Clean Gutters.
Check the roof
- the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) publishes a handy top to bottom checklist of maintenance tasks, starting with the roof;
- now is the time of year to ensure that no slates or tiles are loose and that chimneys are structurally sound;
- there is still time to check the mortar between courses of brickwork and ensure than any repointing is done;
- the combined effects of frost and running water may cause a myriad of problems for damp walls and contribute to the estimated 33% heat lost through them;
Windows and doors
- talking of heat loss, windows have to take their share of the blame too;
- although double-glazing is estimated to cut heat loss by up to 50%, there are cheaper, secondary glazing solutions you might want to consider – and help keep your tenants’ heating bills within reasonable bounds;
- whilst checking the windows, remember to make certain that no rainwater is able to collect on the sill or seep down behind it into the brickwork;
- consider putting a seal around doorframes to cut down on draughts – and, for the same reason, don’t forget to cover the letterbox;
- it is easier – and certainly cheaper – to have any boiler properly serviced now, rather than waiting for it to break down in the depths of winter;
- condensing boilers need to be checked for the effectiveness of the drainage of the condensed water vapour;
- if your property is unoccupied, then typically, as part of your landlord insurance cover, you may need to drain down the heating and water systems;
Call the chimney sweep
- whether solid fuel fires are wood or coal burning, remember to have the chimney swept – and remember, too, the recent legislation requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in the rooms where such fuel is burnt;
- there are a number of ways – chimney balloons, for examples – of helping to protect open flues from blockages or falling debris.
Time spent on routine maintenance now is likely to save time – and money – when things go wrong in the winter. It is likely to prove time well spent.