Every weather forecast on the BBC this month has sent chills down the spine of landlords and home owners across the UK as ‘grim up North’ weather parades itself around the country like a Gallagher caricature. Let’s hope that 2016 doesn’t have too many visitors from ghosts of Christmas past and the floods that battered large swathes of England are in semi-retirement now. It is a safe bet though that the rain will pour and the snow will fall, so now is the best time to make sure that no unwanted guests are ‘invited’ around this season and you don’t need to add emergency plumbers and roofing contractors to the Christmas card list.
The Winter is Coming – Be Prepared
Autumn is a good time of year for doing external repairs to properties, as the weather is cooler and a great deal of products recommend that they are not applied in direct sunlight or with exposure to excessive heat. Don’t be surprised to see vans appearing on your street as neighbours get roofing fixed and drainpipe guttering straightened out. When it pours, it can pour like there’s no tomorrow in December and damaged roofing and guttering can cause all manner of expensive problems:
- Damp, algae and mould growing on the walls
- Rising damp, as the flooded ground around the base of your home seeps water into the foundations
- Flooded basements
- Stained ceilings from water that creeps through beams and pools at the lowest point
There are some remedial quick fixes that can be undertaken, and all it takes for the most part is some sunshine on a Sunday afternoon and a ladder (with someone holding the bottom). Basic maintenance in ensuring that gutters are kept clean is very important – leaves clog up very quickly to create dense plugs that stop rain water flowing away correctly. Don’t just check the gutters though, look for leaks from the downpipe and any blockages in the drain.
Water torture from a leaking roof can be unbearable – ruining the décor and carpet – and there are some quick observations to make when checking for leaks from the roof and getting any repair work done. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the leak is in the middle of a ground floor room ceiling that it doesn’t come from the roof. Water will trickle around through gaps and cracks, including running across ceilings far from the source of the leaking roof.
If you’ve ever woken up on a winter morning and opened the window due to condensation on the wall, that too may come from a leaking roof problem which has caused damp in the room, and not just from low ventilation whilst you sleep.
Game of Throws – Trying to Keep Warm
QVC and the shopping network channels go into overdrive selling fitted blankets and throws to stay warm whilst curled up watching the Strictly Come Dancing final, and whilst that is seasonally cosy, it would be nice for it not to be a necessity. Home owners and renting tenants are hoping to be past their student days of wearing coats in their home come 7pm and the pros of maintaining a property can pay in dividends for one’s health as well as the electric and gas heating bills.
Whilst there is still time, make a checklist to either send to your renting tenant, or for yourself to complete in time for December:
- Check that the guttering is clear
- Unblock leaves from outside drains
- Ensure that leaves and autumnal debris aren’t piled up against external property walls
- Look for puddles and poor drainage on driveways that push water into the property’s walls
- Observe any darkening of legacy ceiling stains, and see if it stays touch-dry
- Never obstruct air bricks and installed ventilation blocks
- Buy that cute draught excluder
- Conduct spot checks (from the ground) of missing roof tiles – even checking in the attic for holes and draughts
- Keep an eye on your neighbour’s property too, if possible, as them not conducting spot checks could cause damp and leaks in your home and ceilings.
Are there any other measures that you conduct this time of year to get your property in ship shape condition for the winter months?