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Give your home a winter health check

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 21, 2014

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The start of 2014 may have been relatively mild, but with the recent wet and stormy weather predicted to continue, now is a good time to consider how this may affect your home.

Carrying out a winter health check on your home will help identify areas that need attention and catch problems at an early stage, making sure that you and your family are warm and safe. NHBC, the UK’s leading warranty provider and standard setting body for new build homes, offers the following tips:

· Heating – If you have a gas boiler, it's important that you have it serviced annually by a competent and registered engineer. Ensure that your engineer is qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances with the Gas Safe Register website at www.gassaferegister.co.uk

· Chimneys and flues – If you have a fire that burns either wood or coal, then you should arrange for the chimney to be swept at least once a year. For gas fires, make sure that the flue outlet is not blocked or obstructed on the external wall of the house.

· Radiators – To ensure that your central heating is as energy efficient as possible, releasing trapped air or gas by bleeding the radiators can make a real difference. Reflective panels fitted behind radiators can also reduce heat loss and save money.

· Smoke alarms – Smoke alarms in new homes are wired into the mains, but in older properties may be battery operated, so ensure these are in working order. Remove any build up of dust and grime with a damp cloth or a vacuum cleaner nozzle, and check that the alarm is working properly by pressing the test button.

· Roofs – Check the roof of your house (and garage) from the outside with a pair of binoculars to check for slipped or broken tiles, or cracks in the lead work. It's also worth examining at the roof from inside as a double check for water penetration.

· Gutters – During autumn, leaves, moss and other debris may have accumulated in gutters. Blockages can cause leaks, so make sure that the gutters and down pipes are cleared at least once a year.

· Exterior woodwork – To make sure that woodwork stands up to the rigours of cold and freezing temperatures, it may need repainting or staining. New homes will first need this doing after about two years – after that, at intervals of four to five years. Homes close to the sea may need repainting more often, because salt and wind can be damaging to paint.

For more information, and to download a handy checklist, please visit www.nhbc.co.uk

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