How to prepare your home outdoors for winter

What are the top jobs for winter?

Keeping the house warm is one of them, but don’t neglect your garden and outside areas, either.  These are some pre-winter jobs to think about that will be home improvements you will appreciate.

Our tradesmen, like so many others in the Cambridge area book up fast, particularly electricians, handymen and builders. Do yourself a favour: get sorted and get organized to avoid disappointment and costly quotes.

Here are some things you should be doing to get your home ready for winter

Clean gutters

Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters because they are useless if they clog up and can cause a host of expensive problems. It’s also a good idea to prune trees near the roof to prevent debris collecting in gutters. Then clean or have someone clean your gutters and downpipes ready for the winter downpour.

Check downpipes

Check that downpipes lead straight into drains and soakaways, that all the fixing brackets are intact and securely attached to the fascia board. Finally secure sections of gutter that have come apart to avoid leaks.

Fill cracks

Potholes are not restricted to roads, and Cambridge has certainly suffered its fair share. Ice, rain, and snow will affect your pavements, patios and driveways if they are in a state of poor repair. Maintain your garden paths and drives by filling in cracks before the frost can make them bigger. You can do this with crack fill for a temporary solution, but for a long-lasting solution contact a hard landscaping professional.

Check outdoor lighting

Make sure outside lights are working. Use low-energy lightbulbs so they don’t cost much to leave on when it’s dark outside. And why not consider outside lighting with infrared motion sensors for added security against burglars?

Check tree branches

Trees can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage if they fall during high winds and rain. Inspect trees near your house and remove any branches that might hit power lines or the roof in a gale. Take the opportunity to trim trees back and ensure they are in good condition – hire a tree surgeon who can advise on any work that may need doing. However, before you touch the trees around your home, check they are not subject to a Tree Protection Order.

Inspect outside walls

When was the last time you checked your garden walls?  Is the wall leaning or does it have noticeable cracks (don’t worry about hairline cracks, which occur naturally)?  Inspect all brickwork for any cracks and signs of wear such as mortar falling out, cladding defects and rendering coming away from the wall. Check for damp marks and mold on the walls – signs that your gutters or downpipes have been leaking.

Tend to flat roofs

Flat roofs covered with bituminous felt need regular checking as they are prone to leaks and water damage. Check for cracks, heat bubbles, pooling water, de-lamination and joints between the flat roof and walls. You may also want to ensure that the stone chippings (where relevant) have not become displaced as this can expose the felt to the elements, leading to damage.

Replace missing roof tiles

Ask a roofer to check out the roof and replace missing or cracked slates or tiles. The most vulnerable to storm damage is where the wind is forced to change direction – these are normally the ‘edges’ of the roof, such as ridges, hips, and verges. Have a professional roofer check the roof cavity for any leaks.

Paint outdoors 

As soon as you see the outside paintwork beginning to crack, blister and peel, it is time to apply a fresh coat. Ignoring these signs will lead to a much more expensive and extensive job later. This is a rewarding job that adds to the resale value of your property, enhances the look and helps protect it against weather damage. Painting the exterior of your house is best done in the spring or autumn when temperatures are moderate, and the weather isn’t too hot or too cold. If you decide to take this on as a DIY invest carefully in good equipment and paints, alternatively speak to one of our reliable local decorators for help and advice here

Garden makeover 

Autumn is a good time to start thinking about landscaping projects you might like to do over the winter ready to enjoy next spring. While the garden is bare, take the opportunity to make plans for garden projects and speak to landscapers who may have more availability than in the summer months. Connect with a local landscaper here. 

Top Tip: Also start to heat your home regularly in the autumn months to prepare your roof for the winter. Your roof holds temperature so if you turn the heating up full blast in the winter months when it is already cold outside, it will do little to improve house temperature.

Dawn Giesler, is the founder of Scuseme Cambridge, a recommendation website that helps your family run smoothly. She has lived in Cambridge for over 20 years and offers advice based on her own experiences. For more information please visit: scuseme