Before you hibernate for the winter there are a few essential tasks that need to be done to ensure your home stays in tip-top condition and can weather the season ahead. Weatherproofing a home, whether for winter winds and rainfall, or for the cold winter nights, should be done on an annual basis if you don’t want to fall behind with small job that could otherwise end up as expensive repairs.
Start at the top
- Check chimneys
Loose flashing, damaged masonry and loose bricks can easily allow rain water in a house. As part of your annual maintenance, be sure to give the chimney an inspection to ensure everything is A-OK. Loose flashing can be re-nailed or replaced as necessary, damaged mortar can be chiselled out and replaced, and loose bricks re-bedded securely in place.
These are small tasks that will save you thousands of Rand in possible damage later on down the road.
- Loose, dislodged or broken roof tiles or ridge caps
While you have the ladder handy don’t forget to give the roof a thorough inspection to check for loose or crumbling cement along the ridge cap (top of the roof), or to see if any roof tiles are damaged. If you do discover any problems and don’t have experience or feel confident in tackling this repair yourself, call in a professional roofing contractor.
- Check seals around skylights
If you have skylights, make it a regular routine to perform an annual inspection of the flashing or seal around the skylights.
- Tin or IBR roof
A tin or IBR roof should be checked for signs of rust or possible leaks around flashings and mounting screws. A membrane and waterproofing paint, or specialist product, can be applied to suspect areas and ensure a waterproof roof over your head. Head on over to your local hardware store and discuss the type of roof and problems that you have in order to obtain the correct products.
- Flat roof repair
On a roof where tar paper has been applied and is starting to show wear and tear, this is not really a DIY project and you will need to consult a roofing specialist to undertake patching or touch ups.
- Blocked gutters
If you live in a region that has winter rainfall you need to ensure that gutters and downpipes are clear from debris. Blocked gutters and pipes can result in water damage to a home should these overflow, so it’s always best to take a look before the rainy season starts to ensure gutters and downpipes are not blocked or leaking.
To remove a blockage, grab a hosepipe and push this up – or down – the downspout to try and release fallen leaves.
- Leaking gutters
Fix up leaks in gutters with self-adhesive aluminium tape or apply a membrane and suitable waterproofing product. You will find everything you need to repair leaking gutters at your local hardware store.
- Drainage problems
Before we work our way down and while you are busy checking gutters and downspouts, any drainage problems, such as pooling of water or insufficient runoff should be remedied now before the downpours occur and you aren’t able to get outdoors to remedy the situation. Fitting concrete drain trays at the bottom of downpipes helps to direct water away from the foundations of a property and prevent problems such as rising damp. If the drain tray is not enough, consider digging out a trench to install a PVC pipe to direct water away from the building.
Work your way down
- Inspect window frames
Wooden or steel window frames require annual inspection and maintenance as and when required if you want your home to be free from draughts. Check that glass panes are firmly bedded in the frame, or replace degraded window putty or sealer. Where wood beading has come loose or broken, replace this with new beading or apply an exterior wood sealer around the glass panes.
Wooden window frames need to be treated with a wood preservative or exterior wood sealer every 18 to 24 months; or sooner if the wood starts to show signs of drying out or cracking. You will find a selection of wood treatment products at any hardware store, and be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended guidelines for proper application to ensure maximum protection.
Where windows do not sit flush with the frame you can purchase self-adhesive rubber strips that can be mounted either to the window or the frame to create a snug draught-proof barrier that will insulate your home during the colder months.
- Draught-proof doors
Exterior doors are the main culprit for loss of heat in a home. Cold draughts under a door can be blocked by fitting a door sweep to keep out draughts and, as with window frames, a rubber strip can be mounted around the door frame to close up any gaps.