With winter on its way, we’ve put together a few winter tips to help you look after your home and car.
We’ve put together a few tips with the help of some of our in-house building specialists to help prepare your home for winter and protect you and your contents:
Ensure the roof is regularly checked for any cracks, leaks and damage. Water damage, mould, or blistering paint on your ceiling could also indicate a leaky roof. Inside your home, check your walls and any timber for decay, dry rot, or water damage. Keep an eye out for any changes to walls and floors around showers and baths too as it could be an indication of leaks.
Clear gutters regularly to prevent water backup. Make sure all gutters and drainpipes are attached properly, and water is draining away from the house or garage. The last thing you want to see in a storm is a deluge of water heading your way. For those in more southern climates, snow straps on guttering will help support them if there’s a heavy fall.
As you leave your holiday home – or your home to go on holiday – turn the water off and clear the pipes so they’re water free. If your home is prone to freezing temperatures this will avoid the pipes bursting if any water inside freezes. Outside, disconnect and drain garden hoses to prevent icy water leaking onto paths or into a soggy garden. This will also help to prevent any bursts and save you buying a new hose come springtime.
Maintain your fences and retaining walls, especially if they are starting to shift or fall, and look out for any cracks or movement from walkways and steps. Don’t let gardens build up too close against external walls of the house and keep an eye on mature trees growing next to fences, foundations and power lines. The last thing you need is a branch crashing through the window in the middle of a storm.
Avoid slippery paths and steps by spraying an ice and water repellent solution on before they freeze. You can also use sand, clay-based kitty litter or rock salt on your paths and driveway but be aware salt can damage grass and plants.
Unless your windows are in direct sunlight, keep your drapes and blinds closed to hold the heat in your home. Draught stoppers on doors and windows are a simple, cost effective solution to keeping your home warm.
Don’t place heaters in areas with restricted airflow because they may overheat. Remember the heater-metre rule – always keep furniture, curtains, clothes, and children and pets at least one metre away from heaters and fireplaces. Never cover your heaters or store items on them. It’s also important that high wattage appliances, like those heaters, don’t overload power points or multi-boards as they may cause a fire.
If you have an inexplicably high water bill, it could pay to check for a leak or damage to water pipes. If left for too long, you might find yourself in more trouble than you bargained for, especially if the leak causes damage to your walls, floor or ceiling. These kinds of things generally take time to build up and offer a few clues that you shouldn’t ignore. Check out our blog for more info on gradual damage.
When it comes to winter preparedness, we often think of what we need to do around the house to get ready and end up forgetting about our cars. Check out our tips for maintaining your car during winter:
With winter comes shorter days which means we’re using our lights more. Headlights and taillights not only help you but also ensure that you’re seen by other drivers on the road. Make sure you’re regularly checking all of your lights (including your indicators) are in working order. Don’t forget to give them a good clean if they’re getting foggy too.
If you can’t unlock your car door, don’t try to force the handles, as they can easily snap. Instead, try using a de-icer or warm water on your locks – but only do this occasionally, to protect your locks. You can also use a de-icer or warm water along the edges of the door seals if they are frozen to the metal frame.
Turn off all accessories, such as your radio, heater, or window wipers, before trying to start your car, to prevent draining battery power. When it’s running fine, turn on the heater to clear ice from the glass and mirrors.
Don’t pour boiling water over your windscreen as this may cause cracking. The best way to remove ice from glass is a good quality plastic ice scraper, or a chemical de-icer. Covering the screen will prevent it icing up in the first place, but make sure it isn’t wet, or made of a fabric that will leave fibres.
Speaking of windscreens, winter is when we commonly experience foggy windscreens that don’t seem to clear fast enough. An automotive glass cleaner will help to clean your windscreen and keep it clear. Avoid using your hands or an old cloth as these will only leave more marks.
Did you know that the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm? Ensuring your tyres all have at least the minimum tread depth is important in ensuring you don’t lose traction when driving, especially on those rainy days.
Don’t forget to check your tyres regularly and ensure they all have equal pressure. If you’re unsure of what your tyre pressure should be, it can sometimes be found in your car (try the driver’s door post or the inside of the fuel flap) but if you can’t find it, check with your local tyre shop or service centre and they should be able to help.
Now’s a great time to review your insurance. We recommend checking your details are up to date and ensuring the policy and cover you’ve chosen is right for you and your insurance needs. If you have any questions about your insurance or need to update your policies, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re open from 8am to 8pm weekdays and from 8am to 6pm weekends and public holidays.