Wet, windy Atlantic weather is something that we should be used to in the UK. Yet forecasters are warning us to expect heavy rain and strong gales in their three-month outlook. Met Office research is even suggesting this could be the wettest winter for more than 30 years!
It seems the jet stream has grown stronger and moved north, carrying weather systems from the Atlantic right over the UK. So it looks like time to ‘batten down the hatches’ and get the wellies and sou’westers on. But before we do, it is well worth checking your property to make sure it’s winter proof against this inclement weather.
It may take a little time, vigilance and a bit of ingenuity but it will be a worthwhile exercise if it stops the worst of the Atlantic depressions coming into your bedroom or living room. Usually it is a small defect in a property that allows excess water to enter the fabric of a building, which can lead to problems such as rising damp. Here are a few tips to help you ‘winter proof’ your home against bad weather:
1) Check roofs – start at the top, checking to see if roof tiles or slates have slipped or are loose, missing or damaged. Any gaps will allow water to enter and potentially damage roof timbers. A handy tip is to use a pair of binoculars to first check the roof carefully from ground level.
2) Clear out gutters – routinely clear guttering at least twice a year (spring and autumn) to ensure leaves, moss, soil and other debris are removed. Blocked gutters allow water to spill onto masonry, which can saturate walls over time, causing damage. When clearing gutters use soft brushes or plastic trowels, as metal tools can cause damage.
3) Check down pipes – this includes both drain pipes and waste pipes. Blocked pipes mean that trapped water will expand as it freezes, which can cause pipes to split or shatter. Damaged pipes also allow water to saturate exterior walls, leading to water ingress and interior damage. A handy tip is to use a small hand mirror to help you check behind pipes for cracks or splits.
4) Clear or prune vegetation against a property – clear away plants from behind pipework, cut back bushes, prune or preferably remove climbing vegetation such as ivy. These plants can hide faults and problems as well as weakening mortar or pushing behind and damaging pipes. Be wary of tree roots close to walls as they may damage foundations and damp courses.
Always take great care when doing any work at heights and when using ladders. Also wear strong gloves to protect your hands when clearing gutters. If you do discover stains on brickwork or masonry, damp patches on walls when the weather is dry, stains on interior plaster work, peeling paintwork or rusting nails in damp skirting boards then it’s time to get a professional Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (CSRT) to complete a survey of your home.