The nights are drawing in, the heating's going on and the Christmas decorations are already appearing in the shops. It can only mean one thing. Winter is fast approaching.
The Met Office have confirmed that due to a moderate to strong El Nino, Britain is set for a bitter winter this year. So what can you do to prepare your country house for winter? Maintaining your house is essential as small snagging issues can easily turn into larger, more expensive problems that could be avoided. In this guide, you'll find tips to help protect your home and get your country property ready for winter.
Give your roof a good inspection and make sure that any missing tiles are replaced and any flashing which has come away or deteriorated is fixed. Water leaking through a roof can cause serious damage and if left untreated can cause major damp and rot issues.
Clear all drains, guttering and flat roofs. Clogged up gutters are the bane of many people's lives but they are something that really need to be kept on top of. Overflowing gutters and drains, if left for too long, can cause major damp issues and in the worst case scenario, even subsidence. Clearing the gutter of leaves once or twice a year really helps avoid the problem and there are now some fantastic products out there which stop leaves collecting in drains and gutters.
Fill any gaps and cracks in walls to keep the drafts and rodents out. Mice and rats are drawn to warm country homes in the chilly winter months! Investing in foam or caulk which you can obtain from any high street DIY store will be a good investment and will fill the holes with ease.
It's a good idea to put your patio furniture, barbecues and plants sensitive to the cold inside. Metal items in particular can rust and leave stains on your patio. Not only will it make your garden look tidier over the winter months but it will also preserve the longevity of your belongings.
Fire up your boiler before it gets cold to make sure it is running as it should. Oil and gas engineers get inundated from September onwards with heating issues and you may find them more difficult to get hold of. It is also a good idea to order your oil in the summer months as you often find it will be cheaper.
If your radiators and heating system have been in your country house for a while you may find they need bleeding. The tell tale sign is when the radiator is hot at the bottom but cool at the top. All you need to bleed a radiator is the key and a towel. By releasing the trapped air it allows the water to move through the radiators more easily, hence run more efficiently.
Make sure you book your chimney sweep nice and early as they can get very booked up once the winter sets in. Order logs early too and make sure they have been properly seasoned so they burn well.
September & October is a great time to prune trees and hedges. Tree branches can cause damage to property if they are left to get too close and leaves can block gutters and drains. It is also advisable to prune back any wisteria, ivy and other climbing plants that are encroaching on your gutters and roof. Ivy in particular can cause damage to your brickwork and pointing if left to get out of hand.
A burst pipe can be a huge headache and even worse if you are not at your country home when it happens. The best way to guard against it is to make sure all your pipes are covered in a foam jacket. It is also advisable to keep your heating on at both day and night at a temperature no lower than 55 F.
Stock up on crumpets & teabags for those long afternoons. Find a couple of throws, and curl up by that crackling fire in your stunning country property and enjoy.