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Home Safe Home: 8 Step Winter Checklist for a secure home

Point of view shot of a woman's feet in front of a fire with a cup of black coffee to the left.

10 Mar 2017

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Winter isn’t coming, it’s officially here - which means dark evenings, perpetual pots of teas, onesies, and a firm attachment to our couches.

It’s essential that our homes are as toasty and as comfy as possible – you really don’t need a burst pipe or a broken heating system turning your hibernating haven into a leaky cave.

So with the dark days of winter in their full glory, now’s the time to tackle all those essential maintenance jobs to keep your property functioning well. Follow along with our 8-point checklist to make the job a little easier.

1. Get your boiler serviced

We know you’ve been putting it off – yes, it’s one of those annoying and unnecessary expenses, we hear you. But it’s better (and cheaper) to prevent disasters than deal with it haphazardly.

A boiler service should be done once a year to remove any build-up of soot, to ensure the correct air-to-fuel combustion ratio is maintained and to make sure the system is running safely and as efficiently as possible. A new condensing boiler is rated to work at around 80 percent efficiency but if it hasn't been serviced, it could be functioning at a lower capacity, needlessly increasing your energy bills.

2. Investigate heat retention in your home

There's no point in ensuring you have an efficient boiler if your house is leaking heat. Building Energy Rating (BER) assessments have been introduced for houses being sold or rented. Grants are available for the work, so it's worthwhile.

Feel for draughts which can be easily sealed with sealants from your local hardware shop. Feel for any cold exterior walls, a sure sign of heat escaping. Put draught excluders and flaps at doors. Make sure your pipes and water tank are properly lagged to avoid burst pipes if there's a sudden change in temperature.

3. Get the chimney cleaned

Yep, we know you’re wincing as you picture your brand new carpets right now, but this can be a smudge-free job – as long as you hire someone with the right equipment who won't make a mess.

Chimney sweepers have moved on from the times of giant brushes with modern ‘power-sweep’ technology and plastic ground sheets.

Expect to pay roughly €35-€55 for this service.

It will all be worth it when you’re cosying up in front of Netflix and your open fire – maybe even with a bottle of vino.

4. Do a roof survey

Look for loose slates or tiles and quickly replace them. The membranes underneath can be corroded and if they do, the whole roof may have to be replaced. The stuff of nightmares!

5. Prevent storm damage

Make sure trees in your garden (and your neighbours’ gardens) are trimmed properly as fallen branches can cause a lot of damage. And hey, look at it this way – if you ever need to borrow a lawnmower, your neighbour will be in your debt.

Another good idea is to secure patio furniture and pots in your garage or shed, and keep a stash of battery-lit torches handy.

6. If you have a house alarm, examine the settings to ensure they're correct

Another not so welcome effect of an economic downturn is an increase in crime, so try to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to target your property. Ensure windows and doors have proper locking mechanisms.

Motion detector lighting is inexpensive and small tricks like laying gravel will make it harder for thieves to creep up. If there is a lot of foliage around the house, cut it back for winter as this can provide a backdrop for burglars to hide in.

7. Prevent carbon poisoning with one small device

If you haven't got a carbon monoxide detector, buy one now as a poorly ventilated house can lead to a potentially lethal build-up. Visit CarbonMonoxide.ie for more info.

8. Water stop your home

Make sure you know where your water stop is in case you need to turn it off – it’s usually located under the sink.

Clean guttering and drains too. Blocked guttering can cause all sorts of problems. A build-up of water can cause corrosion or rot if it's going down the side of a house or onto wooden windows. Next time it rains, check all your gutters and watch out for tell-tale problem signs like sprouting greenery.

It’s a good idea to maintain painted windows and doors by washing down the surface to remove any build-up of environmental dirt and vegetable growths.

Examine the paint film to ensure it's intact and not cracking or flaking, as this type of failure will let in moisture which causes rot. Make sure attention is paid to joints and the bottom of glazing too.

Got all that? Great – you’re ready to settle in. Maybe even crack open that bottle of vino?

Are you thinking of moving home?

If you’re thinking of buying a new home, you can check out this handy first time buyer’s guide.

Find out how much you can afford to borrow with our mortgage calculator or book a mortgage meeting to suit you with one of our mortgage experts.

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The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.

EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.

EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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