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Winter-proof your home from the wind, wet and cold

By Holly Sprott

Torrential rain, hail and wind – Australia’s weather can be wild. Get your home ready and reduce the likelihood of storm damage with these winter-proofing tips.

With the cooler weather comes additional household expenses, including heating bills – and if you are unlucky – storm damage repairs.
There are some practical steps you can take to improve your home’s thermal performance and minimise the risk of storm damage.
“With changing weather patterns and more severe weather events occurring – including torrential rain, damaging winds and storms with large hailstones – failure to undertake basic maintenance can leave costly repair bills of thousands of dollars that may not be covered by insurance,” warns Cameron Frazer from Ask An Architect, the Australian Institute of Architects’ online building advisory service.
Consider performing the following home maintenance checks before winter hits.

Cut back trees
While trees can add significant value to a property and provide much-needed shade in summer, in winter they can be a hazard to roofs and windows. Falling or swaying branches can break windowpanes and dislodge roof sheeting and tiles, leading to water damage in your home’s roof, walls and interior. To avoid this, make sure you cut back branches that sit too close to your home.
If you are planning a DIY branch removal, talk to your local nursery about the best equipment and cutting technique to use, as the way a branch is cut will impact the tree’s appearance and healing process. Your safety is always a priority, so engage a professional tree lopping service to remove any major branches.

Maintain your gutters and downpipes
When there’s heavy rain, it’s especially important that the excess water can drain away. Otherwise the water can flow into or underneath your home, causing damage. Clear debris from your gutters, and ensure downpipes are unblocked and running into the appropriate drainage. Frazer suggests installing gutter protection barriers so leaves and debris blow off guttering.

Audit your roof and flooring
When was the last time your roof was checked? If there are openings in the exterior or there’s a structural problem in the roof cavity, it won’t stand up to the wilder weather. Again, be careful when reviewing your home’s roof and always use a professional roof repair service. Frazer also recommends checking for excessive dampness in your home’s wet areas (the bathroom, laundry and kitchen) and underneath and around your home, as sub floor dampness can attract termites. Leaks, pooling water and dampness may also impact your home’s foundations.

Seal up gaps and cracks
Improve your home’s insulation, cut your heating bills and keep out those chilly breezes by sealing gaps and cracks around window and door frames. Try an expanding sealant or silicone for small gaps. Another simple trick is to use a door stop to prevent drafts coming in underneath doors.

Invest in double- or triple-glazed windows
According to the government’s YourHome website, “…up to 40 per cent of a home’s heating energy can be lost and up to 87 per cent of its heat gained through windows”. Double- or triple-glazing your windows will not only reduce the transference of heat and cold, but it can also significantly reduce noise pollution.

Service your hot water system
Along with checking your hot water system’s thermostat (some tanks are limited to 50°C, so you will be wasting energy if it is set any higher and can risk damage) and insulation, it’s also worth getting your water heater serviced. This will include checking for corrosion; assessing the condition of the anode rod and filters; measuring water pressure; and potentially flushing the system out to remove debris. This process can improve your water heater’s efficiency and increase longevity.

Bring out the winter woollies
A few extra blankets on the bed, throws in the lounge room and rugs on tiled or timber flooring will keep you cosy and enable you to set the thermostat a little lower without reducing your comfort.

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