Preparing your Home for Winter

Preparing your Home for Winter

October 2018

Winter is fast approaching! Within this article we look at ways you can prepare your home from winter conditions such as damp weather, winds, rain, frost and snow to prevent damage to the structure of your home.

This article is mainly on the exterior maintenance of your property. However, we do discuss internal items’ namely your boiler and waste pipework.

Roof Finishes

Make sure all slipped and missing roof tiles are replaced in position and securely fixed. Look at all ridge and hipped tiles ensuring that they are securely bedded in sand and cement and fully pointed.

Look up at your guttering – can you see daylight between the back edge of the gutter and the roof tiles. If you can, you may need to arrange to have new roof felt dressed under the roof tiles and into the gutter. This will prevent your fascia board becoming saturated and rotten.

Look at your lead work such as flashings, chimney back gutters, front aprons and side flashings. Make sure that these are in good condition and wedged and pointed into the brick work.

Flat Roofs

If your flat roof is over 20 years old, it is likely to be covered in the old B.S. 747 roof felt and, in all likely hood, is coming to the end of its useful life and will need replacing. Inspect to ascertain if there are splits and bubbles within the felt. If this is the case, split the bubbles to let the air out and paint with a bitumastic and fibreglass reinforced roof paint as a temporary measure. This will give you time to arrange to organise quotations for a new flat roof finish. There are three main types as follows:

a) High performance roof felt superior to the B.S.747 type, if fixed properly to manufacturer’s instruction, should give a life of 20 to 30 years.

b) Fibreglass paint on roof finish. This needs to be applied when the roof structure and base is dry. Applied to manufacturer’s instructions, should give you up to 20 years useful life.

c) Rubber roof finish. This is like a rubber sheet applied on to the roof structure and board. This should only be applied when the base board is dry, and heat welded seams should be carried out in the dry. This method should be carried out by trades people who are experienced in using this product. If manufacturer’s instructions are followed this finish should give a useful life of up to 30 years.

On all flat roofs, be wary of walking on them. Lay sheets and boards prior to carrying out any maintenance. Clean thoroughly on completion ensuring that no nails or screws are left on the roof.

Gutters and Down Pipes

Make sure at least twice a year that all gutters and downpipes are not blocked.  Clean out gutters and rod down pipes.  If you live near trees clean after the tree leaves have fallen and again in the early summer.

If gutters and downpipes are from Upvc make sure all the joints are properly sealed.  The joints have rubber seals which should last at least 10 years but should be checked regularly. If a drip is seen on a joint, replace the rubber seal.  Make a note of the manufacturer and size of gutter and pay a visit to your local builders’ merchant who should be able to assist you.

Check all down pipe brackets and make sure they are securely fixed back to the wall. If any are damaged or missing, purchase new (from your local builders’ merchant) and securely fix in position.

Clean out all hoppers and leave in good working order.

Cast iron gutters and downpipes need checking regularly as they can be badly affected by rust.  Regular work will be required to rub down and redecorate.  If joints are leaking, then call in a specialist plumbing firm to remove old specialist product and remake joints.


Look at all your decorations: check timber windows and the condition of paintwork, gloss or satin wood or staining.  Any exposed woodwork should be primed or stained as a minimum, ready for full decorations when the weather permits.

Check mastic at abutments of windows and walls and, if in poor condition, prepare and remastic.

External render: check fully decorated with exterior paint.   Any exposed areas should be touched up ready for full redecorating when weather permits.

As a general rule, decorations should be done from May to end of September.  There are always exceptions, but this will depend on the weather and temperatures.

Fences and Gates

Check panel fences, making sure panels are securely fixed and posts are secure within the ground (no rot apparent at ground level).

Look at gates and check posts are secure.  Make sure all catches, bolts and hinges are all well oiled and in good working order.

Allow to treat all timber fencing and gates at least every five years with a wood preservative.


Gas Fired and/or Oil-Fired Boiler

Before winter sets in and probably during late summer have your boiler serviced. For optimum performance boilers should be serviced once a year.

If gas fired use a Gas safe engineer.

If oil fired, use an OFTEC (Oil Fired Technical Association) registered engineer.


Make sure that all internal waste pipes are clear and in good working order. All traps should be regularly cleaned and sealed.  Soil and vent pipe should be cleaned and rodded regularly to leave in good working order.

External drainage:  Know where all your manholes are. Make sure that the lids have easy access and can be lifted and drains running on your property are in good working order. Rod and clean regularly.


Before the autumn and winter months set in you may find it useful to have a list of local and reliable craftsmen with names and telephone numbers handy in case of any emergency.


The above list is by no means exhaustive, but if carried out annually, will help you to keep your property in reasonable condition for years to come.


Article written and prepared by:


Conciliation Services Manger

The Guild of Master Craftsmen