Follow These Steps To Get Your Home Winter-Ready
Winter is not just about cold weather – it can damage parts of your home. Here are some steps to prepare your home for the season…
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June 15th, 2017 by Megan Ellis
You might think that South African winters are so mild that you don’t really need to prepare your home.
But anyone who has had frozen pipes burst, insulation problems or even mould growth will tell you this isn’t the case.
So how can you prepare your home for winter?
We have compiled a list of steps to take.
It turns out you don’t just have to hold thumbs and hope your pipes don’t freeze and burst. There are a few steps you can take to try to protect them from really bad cold fronts.
The simplest way to do this is to use heat tape on problem pipes. Despite the name, heat tape is more than just an adhesive material.
According to ElectroFlex.co.za, heat tape is made up of an electrical element or cable which runs along your pipe. You then wrap it in adhesive insulation to keep the heat from escaping. It is more of a kit than a single product.
Luckily it is relatively easy to install and will keep your pipes at a safe temperature. You just need a grounded electrical outlet to give it power.
HGTV.com also suggests switching the water off for your outdoor sprinklers and taps, draining any water left in them. You should also detach and empty any of your garden hoses and store them away.
If the worst happens and your pipes do explode, make sure everyone in the house is aware of how to switch off the water mains to avoid flooding and high water loss.
If you live in the Western Cape, you’ll know that winter comes with rain. In fact, you can have days and days of rain.
You should, therefore, make sure that any leaks in your ceiling and roof are sealed so that you don’t end up with water damage. Repairing and waterproofing during the winter season is difficult when the weather just won’t clear up.
There is also value to sealing up cracks and openings in your roof for those who experience dry winters. These exposed spots will let heat out of your home – which will raise your electricity bill if you’re using heaters.
Dry winters still also come with cold winds, so sealing up any exposed areas will help keep the house insulated.
Even just using caulk or silicone gel around your window frames can help keep them more sealed and secure.
If you live in a place that has a rainy winter, make sure you also storm-proof your home.
You can read this CompareGuru article on seven tips to storm-proof your home.
These tips include cleaning gutters, making sure your land has sufficient drainage and possibly even getting storm guards for doors and windows.
You should also check whether your home insurance policy covers storm damage so that you aren’t hit with any unexpected costs.
To save on electricity, many people are opting to use fireplaces. This is especially common in older homes.
However, before winter sets in, you should make sure you do some chimney maintenance.
Your chimney will need to be cleaned and cleared of any blockages. You will also need to have your chimney checked for any damage. Make sure it has proper air flow.
Having smoke fill your home due to a blocked chimney will not only leave your eyes burning and your furniture smelling. You will also need to open your doors and windows to let the smoke out – while letting all the cold winter air in.
Plants usually go into hibernation during winter, but this doesn’t mean they’re protected from damage.
Many places across the country are all too familiar with the damage frost can do to your plants.
To protect your plants, don’t water them late in the day (including indoor plants). This can lead to the water in the soil freezing overnight and killing your plants.
You can use a variety of simple ways to protect your plants from frost. This includes placing buckets over vulnerable young plants overnight. You can also place plastic sheets over certain plants to insulate them and prevent frost from making contact.
Depending on the type of winter you get (wet or dry), you will want to take steps to either humidify or dehumidify your home.
In Cape Town, for example, winter comes with rain and cold humidity. This makes mould a very real problem for many homeowners.
You should, therefore, use a dehumidifier in problem rooms. Dehumidifiers are usually quite cheap plastic containers with absorbent materials inside. This makes it a cost-effective solution.
One of the most affordable units can cost you around R349 and can be found on PriceCheck.
You can also use anti-mold paint and waterproofing solutions to prevent the growth of fungus.
If you have a dry winter, you will know the lack of humidity can wreak havoc on your skin and sinuses. This is especially true in polluted cities like Johannesburg, where dust and pollution get particularly bad in winter due to the lack of rain.
Humidifiers are unfortunately not as cheap as dehumidifiers, but they can greatly increase your comfort if you suffer from the dryness.
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