Prepare your home for Winter

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By Arts and Lifestyle Editor, Christopher Talbot (@CDTalbot)

With the colder months creeping up on us, it’s time to start thinking about stoking the open fire and dusting off the wall heaters. But before you do, take a look over our essential guide to keep your family safe and warm over winter.

 

Call the Chimney Sweep

Have you ever had your chimney cleaned? Many people continue to use their fireplaces year after year with no thought to the build up of a sticky flammable substance called creosote; if it builds up and isn’t removed it could cause a chimney fire. Also make sure the damper is working properly and that the chimney is capped with screening to keep out critters.

 

Wash your windows and make them airtight.

During winter you want to make the most of all available light and warmth coming through the windows- but you also don’t want the warm air escaping.

So choose a nice sunny day to clean your windows both inside and out; taking the opportunity to look for and cracks or damage and to check that all window locks are working properly. The best window cleaner is ¼ cup of white vinegar in a litre of water; simply apply to the window using scrunched up newspaper.

10 percent of the air that leaks out of a house exits through the windows. Caulk around window frames and apply weatherstripping between the sash and window frame to eliminate air leakage.

 

Re-arrange your furniture

Put your seating closer to fireplaces and heaters to create a cosier mood. Drape them with some soft fleece throws to ward off the chill.

 

Clean the gutters

It may not be the most popular of household chores, but it’s important to ensure the gutters are clear of obstructions to avoid a leaky roof on a cold winters night. After scooping out leaves and debris, flush the gutters and downspouts with a strong stream of water from a hose. Make sure the gutters fit snugly against the house and repair any cracks or damage.

 

Check smoke alarms

Check that all smoke alarms are in working order and replace batteries. With fires, heaters and electric blankets in use, the risk of fire in winter in greatly increased.

 

Have your heaters checked for carbon monoxide leaks

An unsafe heater can cause a house fire or pollute your home with dangerous fumes. If you have your heater regularly serviced and use it correctly, it should be safe and economical to use.

An unsafe or faulty heater can cause serious problems. Health problems that seem worse, or only occur when the heating is on, may be caused by carbon monoxide from a faulty gas heater. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, nausea and chest pain. High levels of carbon monoxide can cause unconsciousness and death.

A professional should do check gas heaters every 2 years, well before the winter heating season.

 

Plug hidden leaks

Grab yourself a tube of foam sealant and go on the lookout for holes and gaps that could let the cold air in. About 30 percent of the cold air that leaks into your home comes through holes where pipes, vents, or electrical conduits that run through the walls, ceiling, and floors. Check under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom for gaps around pipes, and fill them in with an insulating foam sealant. Small gaps can be effectively sealed with caulk

 

Keep these few tips in mind to ensure that your family are safe and warm over winter and if you have a gas heater, call and get it serviced now- it may just save your life.

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