Advice on winterproofing your home
Everyone who lives in the South West knows that although we benefit from a climate that is generally warmer than the rest of the country, we also experience the wettest and windiest conditions.
Excessive rain, gales, snow and salty air all take their toll on homes in the region. Before the worst of the weather arrives, we're giving advice on jobs to tackle now before the winter sets in.
- Great gutters: Make sure gutters and downpipes are in good working order. Replace missing or broken brackets and clean out dead leaves and debris to prevent rainwater overflow. Also check gullys and drains to ensure a free flow of water. Ideally use a gutter guard to prevent the build up of leaves, which are in stock at your local RGB branch.
- Mind the gaps: Prevent cold draughts by sealing gaps and cracks in walls and foundations. Check areas where two different building materials meet, such as corners and chimneys. Try using an expanding foam filler, such as Toupret, available from RGB, or for gaps around windows and doors, try a frame or glazing silicone.
- Cosy up: Make sure your boiler is working well before the cold sets in and ideally have it serviced by a qualified plumber. For energy efficiency, programme the thermostat to reduce the heating when no-one is home, but don't set it lower than around 12C as this can cause pipes to freeze. If away from home for a few days, we recommend scheduling heating to go on for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to keep pipes warm. Ensure pipe insulation is installed and the correct insulation is added to a loft. We recommend a minimum height of 270mm cross laid for attic spaces.
- Radiate warmth: If radiators are cold at the top and warm at the bottom it's a sure sign they need bleeding to keep them working at their optimum level, which is a simple job and can really make a difference.
- Garden jobs: In addition to securing damaged fencing to ensure it stays in place during high winds, think about covering logs used for firewood with tarpaulin and securing with rope so they don't become too damp to use. Be prepared for cold snaps and purchase rock salt for paths, and also a shovel and broom to keep garden paths free from leaves and debris. As outside taps can freeze, don't forget to insulate pipes, or drain downpipes, and taps in preparation.
- Warm windows: Double or triple-glazed windows will keep your home draught free and increase energy efficiency. Look out for low-E (low-emissivity) window glass, which is treated with an invisible metallic coating that prevents heat escaping as well as reducing the UV rays that damage furniture. Check draft excluders are free from damage around windows and doors and replace where necessary.
- Beside the sea: On the South West peninsula, storms blowing salt spray and sand inland can cause damage to concrete, including pilings, foundations and structural walls. It can slowly break down concrete, leading to weakness and instability that may emerge years later. The same applies to brickwork and wood. Coat these materials using resistant paints and exterior finishes specifically designed to reduce salt water damage.
- Better bathrooms: Bathrooms can be draughty places so check for cracks and gaps, and reseal with silicone. If a bathroom doesn't have a radiator, an easy and affordable solution is to install a heated towel rail to add some warmth.
At RGB we have a range of materials that can help protect a home during the winter months and our branch teams are happy to give advice on the best products to complete a job.