How’s your roof? And heating? Check now before winter!

It’s autumn, and it’s time to give your home a quick check over to make sure everything is sound and solid for the coming winter. Namely your roof and your central heating, both of which can be much more expensive and tricky to put right once the weather turns really cold.

Plumbing and heating engineers are notoriously busy in colder weather because there’s a sudden rush of people needing their services. Because some building materials, for example concrete, don’t ‘go off’ when the temperature is too low, roof repairs can take ages and leave you very uncomfortable in the meantime. And emergency repairs almost always cost more than run-of-the-mill maintenance, what with call out charges and so on. So it’s best to check them both now.

Here are some sensible tips.

Checking your roof – inside the home

  • check your attic or roof space for chinks of light showing through
  • check the roof space for damp patches, stains, woodworm, drips, fungus or rot
  • check your walls and ceilings upstairs for damp patches and stains
  • is anything cracked, torn, broken or missing?

Checking your roof – from the outside

  • is your chimney in good shape? If it’s leaning, cracked or missing mortar, you might need repairs or re-pointing
  • is your roof line sagging or lumpy? If so, it could mean the roof supports need attention
  • can you see any broken or cracked tiles? If so, get them replaced before it gets worse and ends up leaking
  • check the guttering, soffits and external pipework are solidly fixed and not leaking, and remove any build-up of leaves and rubbish so water can flow freely

Checking your central heating system

  • turn everything on full blast to test it’s all working properly
  • if your boiler is making a racket, it probably means it’s due for a service
  • buy a radiator key and bleed your radiators to get rid of any air that’s built up since you last used it – it’s expensive heating air, and it makes your system work much less efficiently
  • now’s also a good time to switch your electricity and gas to the cheapest  tariff and make a note to check again in six months’ time

Finding a reliable expert to put things right

The best possible way to find a good builder or plumbing and heating engineer is through word of mouth. If friends and family can’t recommend someone, ask your neighbours. Second best is probably via somewhere like Check-A-Trade, whose member’ services are reviewed by real customers to weed out the cowboys.

Plenty of heating engineers offer free call outs these days, so find someone who doesn’t charge to come round and identify the problem. If you’re uncertain, get a second opinion and check they both recommend the same thing.