Why do I need to maintain my home?
Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make, so it makes sense for you to take good care of it.
And while home insurance covers you for damage that’s outside of your control, general wear and tear won’t be covered - your provider will expect you to keep your home in good condition.
You could even end up invalidating your policy if your burglar alarms and smoke detectors haven’t been checked and turn out not to be working.
By staying on top of things and getting repairs done early you can save money in the long run, plus it might also mean you get a better price for home insurance.
Home maintenance hints and tips
Some of these should be done on a monthly basis, while others you can do seasonally as the weather conditions change.
As the weather becomes milder, and the days get lighter and longer, now’s the ideal time to check your house after winter and give it a good once-over inside and out:
- Check your roof for any damage – cold winter temperatures can crack roof tiles and this can cause leaks during wet weather.
- Clean gutters and clear drain covers – clear away moss, leaves and debris to keep rainwater flowing away from the house and prevent blockages that could cause damp.
- Check your chimney is clear – birds begin to nest in spring so if you’ve had problems with this, it’s a good time to have a chimney cowl fitted to stop birds getting stuck or nesting.
- Inspect brickwork and airbricks – cold weather can damage bricks and mortar, allowing water to get in, and airbricks should be kept clean and clear to help prevent damp.
- Check windows and doors are secure and leak-free – make a note of rotting seals, missing mastic and putty, and check whether the paintwork needs a new coat.
- Inspect television aerials and satellite dishes - windy weather can loosen fittings, so now is a good time to check, tighten fixtures and make sure everything’s secure.
- Look in your loft – make sure any water hasn’t come in over the winter and check your insulation. It should be at least 270mm deep. While you’re there, look for signs of pest infestation.
- Check the seals around your bath. Loose or discoloured areas may lead to a leak. To resolve this the seal can be easily removed and the bath resealed with silicone sealant.
- Book in your annual burglar alarm service – with summer around the corner, it’s a good time to make sure your alarm is working properly before you’ll be out and about more.
- Get home insurance – make sure your home insurance is up to date and you’ve got enough cover. Note when you need to renew it so you can compare quotes and find the best deals.
With warmer temperatures, long days and generally much less rain, it’s a good time to tackle any larger jobs, get outside in the garden and tick things off your outdoor ‘to-do’ list:
- Clean your garden furniture – wash surfaces down with warm soapy water and at the beginning of the season treat any wooden furniture with wood stain, teak oil or paint.
- Check and repair external woodwork – now is the ideal time to make any repairs and repaint wooden areas like fencing, decking, fascias, window frames and doors.
- Look at your exterior – while you’re outside in the good weather, take a close look at your walls and look for cracks. If you spot any missing mortar, now’s a good time for repointing.
- Check your window and door locks – thieves can make the most of windows and doors being left open in the warm weather, so check all your locks are still working.
- Clean patios and decking – damp conditions can discolour outdoor areas and can cause algae which can make them slippery, give these areas a good clean or jetwash.
- Prune garden trees and shrubs – to keep things manageable prune and trim greenery close to your home. Check for any signs of roots that could be causing subsidence.
- Care for your shed – treat it with an annual coating of preserver and while you’re there check for signs of unwanted pests and that all shed locks and windows are secure.
As the weather starts to cool down and the nights draw in, this season your home maintenance should be all about preparation as we head towards winter:
- Get the chimney swept – before any fires are lit, make sure your chimney is swept to clear last winter’s soot away and make sure the smoke can easily escape.
- Have your boiler serviced – get a gas engineer to check your boiler to make sure it’ll be working safely and properly when you’ll be needing it the most.
- Bleed your radiators – check your radiators will be heating your home efficiently by releasing any trapped air that might prevent hot water from flowing through them.
- Examine flat roofs – the waterproof membrane can degrade overtime from exposure to sunshine as well as long periods of wet weather, so look out for damage and sitting water.
- Clear away the leaves – as the trees also get ready for winter, make sure you clear any leaves and debris that pile up around your external walls to prevent this causing damp.
- Insulate your pipes – prepare for the drop in temperature by turning off or insulating outside taps and pipes so they don’t freeze and burst over winter.
- Check your outside lighting and security – with the hours of daylight decreasing, check your security lights are working and that any locks on sheds and garages are secure.
- Put your garden furniture away – once you’re finished using it, store your garden furniture in a shed or outbuilding, or cover it securely, to help prevent weather damage and theft.
It’s a time to wrap up warm and embrace the shorter days. To keep your home safe from the winter weather there are a few simple maintenance checks you can do:
- Keep an eye on your roof tiles – the weather can be very windy this season so remember to regularly look up at your roof and check for any slipped or missing tiles.
- Try to prevent damp – even in winter you still need good ventilation, so try to use an extractor fan where possible and open some windows every now and then to help airflow.
- Check your fences and trees – this can be a time of stormy and unpredictable weather so check for damage and get repairs done quickly before any issues get worse.
- Secure and tie-down trampolines - these are likely to get blown over and damaged during high winds so try to secure them to the ground and take the sides down where possible .
- Inspect your pipes – check for leaks after any particularly cold and frosty weather, frozen water in the pipes can expand which can cause cracks and loose seals.
- Look out for signs of damp – look for mould, wipe away window condensation and check you have good ventilation. Get expert advice on treating damp if you’re concerned.
Monthly maintenance checks
There are also some simple but essential checks you should try to carry out every month, whatever the season. Doing this can help you to prevent or spot any issues before they become a much bigger problem:
- Check your boiler pressure – the pressure should be between one and two when the central heating is turned off. If it’s lower or keeps dropping after you’ve increased the pressure, it could be a sign you have a dripping tap or a leak somewhere. Regular servicing should prevent any issues, but if you’re concerned or the problem continues, contact a plumber or gas engineer.
- Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – it’s important to check these are still working and the batteries haven’t run out. You can check this by simply pressing the ‘test’ button and waiting for the high-pitched sound.
- Remove fluff and lint from your tumble dryer – if you don’t do this regularly you could risk your dryer overheating which may result in a fire.
- Check your fire extinguishers and fire blankets – examine your fire extinguishers and check they still work and that you can see the instructions clearly. Make sure any fire blankets you have are easily accessible and still in good condition.