Matthew Ashton

Written by

Matthew Ashton

8 minute read

Updated 14th February 2024

Winter home maintenance tips

As the cold months close in, homeowners must ensure their properties are fully prepared for winter. The onslaught of frost, snow and icy winds can cause damage to more than just your mood. Our winter home maintenance checklist will take you through:

  • Nine indoor maintenance tips
  • Seven outdoor maintenance tips
  • General exterior helpful tasks
  • General indoor helpful tasks
  • An example winter maintenance checklist

Keep reading to keep your home cosy and protected throughout the winter.

Why is winter home maintenance important?

We understand how easy it is to forget or procrastinate regarding winter home maintenance – staying wrapped up in bed or in front of the fire is more enticing than braving the cold. However, proper winter maintenance will help you prevent expensive repairs and inconveniences that cold weather can cause. Also, better home maintenance means you’ll see better efficiency from your heating and savings on bills. Some of these tasks, although minor and straightforward, can lead to significant improvements and make your home that much more cosy this winter.

How a winter home maintenance checklist can help you

Having all your winter home maintenance tasks in one place helps you remember what needs to be done each year and allows you to prepare in advance so it can be ready well before winter. Preparing a season in advance for first-time homeowners can be helpful, giving you ample time to get things done and helping you learn the common issues your home or area faces in winter. At the end of this article, you can see an example maintenance list to help you stay organised.

How do I organise my home maintenance?

Making a calendar and placing it in the common areas of your home is an easy way to keep things in your mind. Everyone in the house will walk past, sit near or generally be around the calendar, meaning it will be checked regularly, and tasks will be completed.

Nine indoor maintenance tasks

1/ Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home, ensuring you check all parts of your property – including garages and outbuildings that are wired. It can be helpful to make a note of where detectors are located for periodic checking. It can also help when it comes to tracking batteries so you can know when they were last replaced. For this living in Scotland, smoke detectors in the home are a legal requirement.

2/ Bleed radiators to improve efficiency

Bleeding your radiators helps to ensure they’re working more efficiently. You’ll have to make sure your heating is entirely off before starting:

  • Hold an old towel or bucket under the bleed valve and insert the bleed key.
  • Turn it anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing sound, this is the air escaping.
  • When water begins to escape, turn the key clockwise and retighten the valve.
  • Repeat this process on the other radiators in your home that need it.
  • Now you can turn your heating back on and check to see if they are heating more correctly. 

You can also ask your preferred boiler maintenance firm to calibrate your radiators, ensuring they all omit consistent heat.

3/ Turn off water valves that supply water to outdoor hose spigots

This stops water flowing through pipes to these fixtures, which can lead to freezing and burst pipes when the temperature drops. Alternatively, fit insulation around any exposed pipes to reduce likelihood for frozen pipes.

4/ Check windows and exterior doors for any cracks

A leak or crack in your windows or doors can lead to heat escaping the property, creating cold areas as the frosty air gets in. Checking allows you to seal, replace or even utilise a draught excluder for these areas.

5/ Increase or install loft insulation

Ensuring heat doesn’t escape through the roof of your property is an excellent way to keep it warm through winter. Providing your loft is insulated is a great way to do this. If you are concerned about heat loss through your roof, there’s no harm in calling a professional to inspect; their trained eye will help them spot any issues. 

6/ Reverse your ceiling fan to force warm air down

When it’s warm, you want your ceiling fans to produce a wind chill effect to help you feel cooler. But in winter, we need the opposite of this, so reversing the motor in your ceiling fan and running it at a low speed helps to produce a gentle updraught, forcing warm air down into the occupied space.

7/ Have your heating system and boiler maintained annually

A plumbing or heating expert can help shed some light on the heating systems within your home so you can understand any issues and prepare resolutions. This can be particularly helpful if you own an older property to ensure the heating systems work. A high-value home insurance policy will cover Home Emergency for boilers, so long as they are annually maintained and not older than 15 years old. Failure to have your boiler professionally maintained will cause this section of the policy to be void.

8/ Check pipes that sit on exterior walls for proper insulation or freezing vulnerability

This is a great way to prevent disaster; checking your pipes for these vulnerabilities allows you to prevent pipes from bursting and damaging your buildings, general contents and valuables.

9/ Install a wireless thermostat

Many people travel during the winter to see family and friends or to get away from the winter in a bid to get some Southern Hemisphere sunshine. Installing a wireless thermostat, like a Google Nest, will allow you to control the heating of the home from anywhere in the world.

Seven outdoor maintenance tasks

1/ Get your chimney swept if you have one

If you have a chimney for your fireplace or woodstove, get it swept before winter. At the minimum, it’s recommended that you get your chimney swept at least once a year as this prevents build-up, which can become difficult to remove. We recommend you use a HETAS-qualified chimney sweep.

2/ Salting or ploughing your driveway

There are few things more frustrating in winter than a frozen driveway, meaning you can’t park your car on it without great determination, or you’re stuck when you try to leave as your car fights for traction. Gritting your driveway or ploughing it yourself if there’s snow helps you avoid these perils. This is poignant for those rural heritage homes.

3/ Store patio furniture

If you’ve amassed abundant rattan garden furniture, it can be painful to pack it all away, but this is for the best in the winter months. If you have a garage or shed, these are perfect protection so your furniture isn’t left exposed and worn by the elements.

4/ Clear debris and standing water from any flat roofs 

Removing debris like leaves and twigs helps reduce the risk of freezing due to their moisture. Draining standing water from flat roofs is vital, as it stops water from collecting and freezing, potentially damaging your roof; we cover this in-depth in our guide to flat roof insurance. We recommend you have a flat roof inspected at least once every five years by a qualified inspector.

5/ Drain your garden hoses and store them in a sheltered area

If your hoses still have water remaining in them it can lead to freezing and splitting of the hoses as the water expands when it freezes. So draining your hoses and storing them in a garage or shed helps protect them from damage. 

6/ Clean gutters and downspouts

Cleaning and clearing your gutters and downspouts of debris allows anything collected in them to flow down and away from your home. Preventing blockages trapping water, leaves, twigs and anything else that gets caught from weighing down your gutters and causing damage.

7/ Identify tree hazards

If you have large trees in or overhanging your garden or home they can pose a threat to your property if they endure heavy snowfall, extreme wind or heavy rain. Checking to see how sturdy they are, and taking precautions if necessary, can stop any heartache if they weaken or begin to fall. We recommend an annual maintenance check by a qualified tree surgeon or arboriculturist.

Routine exterior tasks

In addition to the indoor and outdoor maintenance tips, we recommend you consider the following routing exterior and interior tasks:

  • Prevent large amounts of snow from piling up against your home by pushing it away as soon as possible.
  • Ensure you have a shovel or snow plough available just in case!
  • Use sand or gravel on outdoor walkways for traction, reducing the risk of slipping and any potential liability claims.
  • Monitor your roof for any damage or ice dams, Check for icicles hanging from your roof line as they are a sign of poor loft insulation.

Routine interior tasks

  • Monitor windows and doors for draughts.
  • Keep interior doors open to allow heat circulation when temperatures are below -5°C.
  • Keep heating on throughout the winter to at least 13 degrees Celsius.
  • If you are going away for an extended period time, then also consider turning off your water at the main stop cock
  • If your property has a basement or a cellar, we strongly recommend you consider installed a sump pump or a non-return valve to your drains.

Your winter maintenance checklist

Indoor maintenance checklist

  1. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  2. Turn off water valves that supply water to outdoor hose spigots.
  3. Check windows and exterior doors for any cracks.
  4. Increase or install loft insulation.
  5. Reverse your ceiling fan to force warm air down.
  6. Have your fireplace or heating system inspected by a professional.
  7. Check pipes that sit on exterior walls for proper insulation or freezing vulnerability.

Outdoor Maintenance checklist

  1. Get your chimney swept if you have one.
  2. Salting or ploughing your driveway.
  3. Store patio furniture.
  4. Clear debris and standing water from any flat roofs.
  5. Drain your garden hoses and store them in a sheltered area.
  6. Clean gutters and downspouts.
  7. Identify tree hazards.

If you’ve found this winter home maintenance helpful checklist but still want extra protection for your beloved home this winter and for the years to come, look at our high-value home insurance to protect your home and peace of mind.

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How do I organise my high-value-home maintenance?

Making a calendar and placing it in the common areas of your home is an easy way to keep things front of mind. Everyone in the house will frequently view the calendar, which will be checked regularly and tasks completed. Find what high-value home insurance is, here.

What is the average maintenance cost of a house in the UK?

The average home maintenance cost is 1-4% of the property’s value annually. This can vary when you consider age, size, condition and the area you live in. However, these can be costly if your home hasn’t had a rewire, foundation maintenance, or roofing fixes in a long time. We recommend building up a savings pot in case of emergencies or for general maintenance. 

What makes my house so cold?

Insufficient insulation is the most likely cause. The insulation in your home or loft can wear down over time, or there can be hidden loft spaces that aren’t adequately insulated. This leads to unwanted airflows and draughts, making your home colder. We recommend contacting a local insulation company to complete a full survey.

How do I make a claim on my home insurance if something goes wrong?

If something goes wrong and you need to make a claim, go to your insurance policy wording document and search (Ctrl + F) for ‘How to make a claim’; you will be directed to the claims page. Before you call, please check whether your claim falls part of the Home Emergency or general policy section. Home Emergency claims do not affect your no-claims bonus and are designed to put right a home emergency.

Written by Matthew Ashton

I started working in the insurance industry in 2004. Four years later, I left to focus on theological studies, working as a youth worker and then as a ministry director in Seattle, USA. When returning to the UK, I had an opportunity to work for the late Andrew Marchington. I joined his firm as a sales advisor when it had around ten staff members. Within three years, I was Head of Ops with a staff team of over 30 people. After a chance encounter in 2019 with Rachel Living and Will Cooper, I co-started Stanhope to build a high-value home, luxury watch, and jewellery broker synonymous with trust. I love being with Donna, my wife, and four kids when not working, cramming in the odd row, or running when I can. I am fortunate to love what I do and consider it a blessing to grow the Stanhope brand.

Matthew Ashton

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