Prepare your house for winter

Every winter our house must stand a real test of quality and endurance. Therefore it is imperative that we prepare our house in advance for the cold, wet and windy season. Some of the preparations below are do-it-yourself and some will require professional help. When working with sealants it is best advised to begin during the dry season, well before the first rains.

We have selected 10 tips which will help you prepare the house and keep it warm and dry during the winter:

1. Clean the gutters and drains on the roof: Check to see if rain gutters (at the edges of slanted roofs) and drains (on the flat roofs), are free from leaves and waste, and nothing is blocking the flow of water. Are there any broken tiles on the roof? Can you see light coming through the roof?

2. Take measures to ensure water drainage in your yard: If your house suffers from wet walls and mold appears near the floors, this means water held in the ground is seeping through into your house. It is highly recommended to have trenches dug around the house, check the sealing on the walls that are below ground (and maybe add another layer of waterproofing) and put in draining pipes that will draw the water away from the exterior walls. Draining pipes have holes drilled into their sides and are wrapped in geotextile fabric.

3. Seal your windows and exterior doors: put in a silicon door seal at the bottom of your exterior doors to keep out the drought and rain, check the silicon seals around your windows to see if they are intact, and check the water troughs under your sliding windows to make sure the holes that let out water are not blocked. If the wall around your windows gets wet in the winter have a professional check the caulking around the windows and redo it.

4. Prepare your air-conditioning unit: Clean the filters and the air intake grills. Turn the unit mode to heating instead of cooling, It is advised to buy an anti-bacterial cleaning formula for treating the fine thins inside the unit that can become very dirty. If it doesnt look clean, remember that you are probably breathing some of that dirt!

5. Fix cracks and holes: This is the time to look around the exterior walls and roof, look at places where pipes and cables enter the house. Holes let the rain in! so make sure holes and large cracks are sealed with a sealant like “Sikaflex” caulking. You can get sealants today in a variety of colors to match your exterior.

6. Roof balconies: Check the balcony to make sure the grout in the flooring is intact, the drains are open and there isn’t anything laying around to block them. Now is definitely the time to get rid of all the things you don’t really need up there…

7. The water boiler and solar collectors: Check the boiler to see that it is working and not leaking, clean the solar panels (wash them with soap and water). They will be more efficient in the winter, when they are clean. Speaking of efficiency – install a timer for the boiler if you don’t already have one, even a countdown timer that turns off automatically can save you lot’s of money for all those times you forgot the boiler on all day.

8. Get ready for winter winds: Make sure all the awnings and sun umbrellas are closed for the summer, and tie down anything apt to move during windy storms, it will save you a big headache replacing and fixing them when they break.

9. Thermal insulation: Adding thermal insulation to your walls and roof might require a professional, but if you always feel cold in the winter and hot in the summer, especially on the top floor, it would be advisable to consider adding an extra layer of thermal insulation. On a slanted roof it could mean another layer of mineral wool, on a flat roof some polystyrene panels with a weighted layer on top. If you were considering redoing your facades, use thermal wall plaster, instead of regular plaster. Consult your architect or contractor for available options.

10. Use sealers: Penetrating sealers (like Siloxane) are see-through liquids that can be painted or smeared on any surface to give them water repelling qualities yet retain their breathableness. They are great for exterior walls and exterior surfaces, and you can do it yourself. Just watch as the water slides right off. Sealers need to be reapplied every 1-5 years depending on type, but are easy enough to use and give you added water protection.

Now that we’ve gotten everything ready for winter, we can get all cozy, light the fireplace and make a nice hot cup of cocoa!