Get your house ready for winter

17 April 2015

The signs of autumn are now definitely here. After a hot dry summer there is a slight chill in the air and occasional rain, so this would be a good time to do a thorough check to make sure your house is ready for winter (particularly in the Western Cape, where it rains heavily in winter and the north wind storms can do great damage), says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter.

Now is the time, while it’s still fairly warm and dry to check the insulation on your windows and conservatories. Make sure the gutters are clean so that you don’t end up with a nasty surprise of water streaming into the house because it has nowhere else to go and check the tops of parapet walls and flashings on the roof to be sure that there are no cracks in the paint or sealant as water can find its way into the tiniest of gaps, she said.

Check that the paintwork on all the exterior woodwork is still intact, and if decking and outdoor woodwork needs oiling, do that now while it’s still dry enough to do it.

If there is a chance that the flue needs a clean, call someone in to do it before you start using the fireplace again. “It is alarming to see how many South Africans do not do this regularly whereas British and European homes do it every year because it is law there,” said Steward.

With the constant need to conserve energy and the rising costs of fuel to heat a home, it is important to check the insulation on the doors and windows to be sure there isn’t unnecessary heat loss here.

“If you’re ordering wood and coal, do it now, so that you have your stock ready and stacked to be used,” she said. “Also order a spare supply of gas so that you aren’t caught short when people are using more than the suppliers can provide.”

The carpets, upholstery and curtains might need to be steam cleaned after the dusty summer, so that should also be done now before it gets too damp and cold to do it.

Cut back any overhanging branches on trees that could cause damage when the north wind starts blowing. Lastly, remember to switch off the automated sprinkler system when the rains come, and if you have the spare cash to install a water collection tank to collect rainwater for the garden, it’s best to do it before the rainy season actually starts.

“Just doing a few smaller things while the weather is good can ease the family into winter living. Home maintenance need not be a chore if done a little at a time and not all left to the last minute,” she said.