Top 5 Ways to Get Your Home Ready for Winter
As they say in the popular HBO TV show ‘Game of Thrones’, winter is coming. In fact, it’s already here. The shorter days have arrived and with them plunging temperatures that can cause damage to your home, as well as energy leaks that could eat away at the money in your pocket. We aim to address some of the problems that could arise in your home and how best to prepare to prevent these issues in the winter months.
1. Reduce condensation to avoid damp & mould
Condensation is the moisture caused by everyday living. It is a common cause of damp in homes and if condensation is left untreated, black spot mould can develop. Condensation is more likely to happen during months when the weather is colder, between October and April.
Condensation happens when warm moist air comes into contact with cooler air or a cold surface. If there is too much moisture in the air and it has nowhere to go, it will settle on cold surfaces, such as glass or walls. Condensation is more likely in a property where there is poor ventilation (ventilation is a way for fresh air to circulate around a room.
‘Did you know that an average household makes between 7 and 14 litres of moisture per day?’
Condensation can be recognised by water droplets/surface dampness on windows and walls, black spot mould, mould spores and musty odours. You are most likely to find condensation in places where activities that produce moisture happen, where there is poor ventilation, such as the kitchen and bathroom, or on cold surfaces like windows.
What you can do to reduce condensation?
- Open windows to let moisture out when you are bathing, cooking or doing washing.
- Use trickle vents if you have them.
- Don’t block airbricks or air vents.
- Avoid cluttering up your property, especially on windowsills and in the corners of the rooms.
- Try not to push furniture up against the walls; regularly pull beds, cupboards, sofas and other furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate behind.
- Use mechanical extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens and make sure they are kept clean and in working order.
- If possible, avoid drying your clothes indoors.
- In colder weather, try to heat your home constantly at a lower temperature instead of turning it on a high temperature for a short time. This will keep building materials warm and avoid moisture building up, and could even save you money on heating bills.
What do you do if you find mould growth in your home?
If you find patches of mould growth in your home, it will probably continue unless you take action. Clean away the patches of black mould wherever possible. The best way to clean away black mould is by using a fungicide. Fungicides are substances that destroy or help stop the growth of mould spores. You can buy fungicides from your local builder’s merchant or some local supermarkets. There are many different fungicide washes and paints available that should stop future mould growth. Some examples include, Cuprinol Fungicidal Spray and Polycell Mould Cleaner.
If you feel your condensation issue is beyond your control or you need more guidance on moisture management or cleaning, please contact our Customer Care Line on 0300 123 3456.
2. Check whether you need to bleed your radiators to increase efficiency
A great way to help efficiently heat your home is to bleed your radiators. Occasionally, air can enter a central heating system and prevent radiators from working to maximum efficiency. Bleeding a radiator will release any trapped air and ensure hot water fills every part of it, thus making the radiator more efficient.
To check whether your radiators need bleeding, turn your heating on and wait until the radiators heat up. If a radiator is warm at the bottom and cold at the top, there may be trapped air in it.
How to bleed a radiator
Bleeding radiators can be a bit of a messy job. Therefore, it is important to protect the area around the radiator when you start bleeding it. Move any soft furnishings away and protect the flooring with old towels. Keep a jug or pot at hand as well as kitchen roll to clean up any spills. Old radiator water can be very dirty and you don’t want that spilling onto anything that can be easily damaged like light coloured carpet.
The first step is to ensure your central heating system is turned off. Radiators should not be bled whilst the heating is still on as this could cause very hot water to spill out. This is not only dangerous but it could also inadvertently cause more air to be sucked into the system.
The next step is to locate the radiator bleed valve, which is a small square plug usually located on one side of the radiator. If you have an old style radiator valve you will need a radiator bleed valve key , which can be bought from most DIY stores. If you have the new valve type then you can use a flat head screwdriver. However, a bleed valve key should also fit, and you will have a little more control with a bleed valve key, so this is recommended over a screwdriver.
Holding your kitchen towel or cloth below the bleed valve (to catch any leakage), turn the key anti-clockwise about a quarter of a turn (or turn screwdriver anti-clockwise if using with the new type valve). If there is air in the radiator you will hear a hissing sound as it escapes. As soon as the hissing stops a dribble of water will escape from the radiator. At this point, close the valve by turning the key or screwdriver clockwise very firmly. You have now bled all the air from the radiator and can move on to the next one.
3. Make sure your boiler is checked for safety and efficiency
Be sure to get your boiler serviced before the cold weather arrives. Losing your central heating during the winter months can be very unpleasant. Having a dependable boiler to provide hot water and heat during the winter months is essential, so getting this checked and tested is important to ensure all components are working. As well as spotting potential problems with your boiler, an annual check can also ensure maximum efficiency of your boiler.
When booking a boiler check, make sure that you always use a qualified engineer. If your boiler is incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or not regularly serviced, it can produce harmful carbon monoxide gas.
If you are an existing leaseholder with Family Mosaic and you have a Communal boiler system, then it is the responsibility of Family Mosaic to ensure that the appropriate checks are made.
However, if you have an individual combination boiler system for your home, then it is your responsibility as a leaseholder to arrange for the appropriate boiler checks to be made
Provisions for boiler checks as a leaseholder will be set out in your lease. Please refer to your lease for more information, or speak to the Customer Care line on 0300 123 3456.
4. Ensure you are suitably covered for the unexpected
Sometimes the weather can get the better of your home, so ensuring you’re covered for any winter-related damage is really important. Make sure your home insurance policy offers adequate protection, and that you’d be covered in the event of property damage caused by winter weather such as flooding, mould and subsidence as well as things like fire and theft. You may also need to look into cover for accidental damage like drilling into water pipes or storm damage, as some home cover policies do not include this as standard, and you may have to add this onto your policy.
Building Insurance for Shared Ownership homes
Building insurance covers damage to the structure of your home such as the external walls and roof. It will cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it gets damaged.
When buying with Family Mosaic, we will usually own the freehold of your home, and as such we will need to make sure that it is adequately insured. When building new homes we will have a block buildings insurance policy which covers all our properties within that particular development. In this case the buildings insurance will usually be covered in the service charge paid to Family Mosaic for your property.
As we require insurance on so many properties the premium payable is reduced and we can pass these savings on to you.
Contents Insurance for Shared Ownership homes
Contents insurance covers loss or damage to everything in your home which is not part of the structure or the building, so you can replace or repair them without having to spend a fortune. As a Shared Owner, you have the same rights and responsibilities as an owner-occupier as you are a Leaseholder, rather than a part tenant.
You must therefore arrange for your own contents insurance cover for your home. We do not cover the contents of your property. It is important to take out insurance to cover the contents of your property from theft or damage so that you are not exposed to any financial difficulties should an unfortunate incident occur.
5. Make sure you’re on the best energy deal for your needs
If you haven’t already, now is the time to check your energy tariffs. During the winter months, you are likely to be using more gas and electricity to heat and light your home during the cold and short days. It always pays to check whether you are on the cheapest energy tariff as suppliers are continuously changing their rates.
It is often the case that customers can save on their annual energy bills by simply switching providers. This will vary on individual basis so make sure you regularly check your utility bills and keep an eye on what is on the market.
You can often use comparison sites like Go Compare or Money Super Market for the latest deals available from utility providers.
What else should you consider?
Ensure windows are sealed
If you have any draughty windows, it could be because there are cracks and gaps in the seals. You can use caulk to seal these gaps and keep in the heat to help lower your energy bills. Caulk is relatively inexpensive, easy to use and available from most DIY stores.
Make sure your gutters are clear
If you live in a house, ensure that your gutters are clear of intrusive objects. Leaves can collect in gutters and drains, leading to blockages and overflows, so it’s best to clear them regularly. Consider investing in gutter leaf guards to help prevent your gutters getting blocked. When clearing the gutters, ensure that the appropriate safety precautions are taken.
Take appropriate precautions when leaving your home unattended
If you’re going away during the festive season, be sure to take the appropriate precautions to ensure your home is well looked after in your absence. You may want to enlist the help of a close friend to drop by while you are away to keep an eye on the house. It is also good practice to purchase a light switch timer. This makes it look like there is someone home while you are away whilst also ensuring the lights are not left on for all hours of the day, running up high electricity costs. While you are away it is also good to unplug your electrical items like microwave and TV. According to the Consumer Energy Center, many appliances use power even when they're turned off.
This article has been created as guidance only. If you require specific information in relation to an existing property with Family Mosaic, you should either consult your lease or contact the Customer Care line on 0300 123 456.