It’s that time of year again when the temperature starts plummeting, hot chocolate sales soar and the Christmas pyjamas come in very handy. Although we don’t get snow for Christmas, frost and rain can make the start of the year a cold-weather catastrophe. While hot water bottles and the last of the Christmas chocolate can stave of SADS for a few weeks, there’s plenty we can do to make sure that our homes are prepared for the cold weather ahead. We’ve compiled a list of our 6 cold weather tips to make sure that this winter is warm and comfortable.
Check your heating system
By law, your landlord is responsible for the maintenance of your heating system, but it is your responsibility as the tenant to report any issues to us as your letting agent so that we can ensure that your heating stays on during cold weather. For example, if the boiler is making unhealthy noises or periodically not firing up then it’s a good idea to report this so that it can be repaired before it breaks down completely in cold weather.
If your heating runs on a meter, make sure that you’re always on top of payments to that you don’t find yourself out of gas in a -3 cold snap, and if you know that unusually cold weather is on its way, check to see how much oil or gas is in the tank to ensure your comfort.
The Met Office recommend that during freezing conditions that your run your household heating at a continual 15 degrees, and 13 degrees if the property is going to be empty for periods of time. This is to try and make sure your pipes don’t burst in the frost and snow – not what you need when it’s super cold!
Although in cold weather we will treat your boiler breakdown as an emergency and make every attempt to get a plumber to you on the same day, occasionally your boiler may need a part which has to be ordered and may take longer to get your boiler up and running. It is a good idea to ensure that you have a secondary source of heating on standby - a single electric heater or oil-filled radiator will keep a single room warm while we work as quickly as we can to get the system up and running again. Similarly, if you know there is a problem with your boiler, don't wait until 4.55pm to report it! Winter is a plumber’s most busy time so give us some time to be able to source one who is available to come out to you!
Have a clear-out
It’s not the most glamorous job in the world and it’s not what you want to be doing when it’s nippy, but clearing out your guttering can save you a whole world of hassle. After British autumns and, let’s face it, British Christmas storms, guttering and drains clog up with leaves and debris which block your drainage. This, in turn, can mean that instead of draining away, water can force itself out in unsavoury places, meaning leaks and damp inside your home. So half an hour of outside work before winter sets in can mean the difference between water outside and water inside.
Check for potential problems
While you’re outside, have a look to see if you can spot any potential issues that could cause cold and wet problems down the line. For example, walk around the house and look to see if you can spot any loose roof tiles that could cause a leaking roof. Can you see water pooling around doors and windows that could become worse if the weather deteriorated? Are you seeing cracks on the inside of the walls that could be due to poor pointing on the outside of the building?
If you spot any issues such as these, you can report them to our online repair service here. Please report any repair issues as soon as you notice them, and we’ll deal with them as quickly as possible so that you’re warm and dry during cold weather.
These are the types of areas that we will check during your periodic inspections (weather permitting) but there is nobody better to spot any changes or problems than the person living at the property…you!
All it takes is a quick wipe with a cloth, but if you don’t, condensation inside a warm house can literally start peeling the paint from your walls and cause unsightly and unhealthy black mould. Although you won’t want to open windows and waste precious heat, you will need to open windows in steamy kitchens and bathrooms until the steam has cleared. Then, just wipe the windows down once in a while and hey presto! Problem solved and paint saved.
Feng shui your furniture
This might sound simple yet absurd but rearranging your furniture can really help you save money and increase the warmth of your home. Pulling the sofa away from the radiator really can make the world of difference in cold weather. If you have long curtains, check they’re not covering the radiator and keeping the window nice and toasty…but not you! This can mess with the thermostats making the heating click off before the rest of the room is warm.
If you know that a room is always a bit chillier than it ought to be, then think about the barriers it has in front of it and, much as the log fires of old, crowd your furniture, pets and loved ones around it, rather away from it.
Be prepared with supplies
We’re not talking ski boots and huskies here, it’s just useful to be prepared for whatever a bitter British winter will throw at us. With unpredictable weather systems coming at us from across the Atlantic, we recommend that you have cold-weather supplies at the ready.
Having candles and matches or a torch to hand prepares you for power outages in storms. For those rare snowy days, a shovel by the front door to dig your way to the car is always a good idea, as is a bag of salt to keep the driveway slip-free. And if you know that a snowy snap is on its way and getting to the shops will be a little more difficult, then try to stock up on non-perishable food in case of a freeze-in.
To check on the weather systems where you are over the winter, then go to www.gov.wales/winter-weather-adviceto make sure you’re prepared for anything – stay safe out there!
And finally, if your power is out, then check with Western Power distribution to see if the power in your area is out before asking us to call in an electrician. We also have created a full emergency procedure which is available here on our website if the office is closed and you are unsure what to do.
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