Winter-proof your home and garden

It's hard to believe that summer's over and before we know it the clocks will be turning back. But although the evenings are drawing in, there's still plenty of time to complete landscaping or building projects around your home. There are some important checks you should do too, to limit the chances of calamities such as burst pipes or chimney fires.

Follow our tips to help you and your family stay safe and warm through the winter season!

1.Inspect the loft. Go up into the loft and check for signs of leaks. If you spot any brown stains or dampness it's likely you have a missing or wonky roof tile. Sorting this now could save you a lot of expense in the future – even a small leak can result in thousands of pounds worth of damage if left unrepaired.

2.Get the chimney swept. Woodburning stoves are increasingly popular, and - just as with open fires - it's vital that chimneys are regularly swept. Birds (usually jackdaws) can nest in chimney pots over the summer and cause a blockage in the flue. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. To avoid any problems with birds, fit a birdguard chimney pot. Sweeping the chimney on an annual basis will also remove soot and any other build-up or obstruction in the flue.

3.Insulate inside and out. Insulate your loft with the best quality material you can afford. Our high-performance insulation products, available for lofts and cavity walls, will help keep you cosy and cut fuel bills. Don't forget to lag pipes to prevent them from bursting in icy weather. Remember to lag any garden taps too.

4.Clear gutters. Leaves, moss and random gunk can accumulate in gutters, causing rainwater to overflow which in turn leads to moisture running down the brickwork. In time this damp can penetrate inner walls of the house, so it's important to keep gutters clear. Check again before Christmas as more leaves will accumulate later in the autumn.

5.Repair or replace outdoor paving. Cracks in paving will only worsen with frosty weather, so now's the time to make any minor repairs. If your patio or pathways are beyond the patching-up stage, consider laying new materials before winter sets in. Check out our huge selection of paving for inspiration.

6.Clean decking. Decking can become very slippery if it's not regularly cleaned and treated. Any rotten sections should be immediately replaced and leaves should be brushed away. Anti-slip oil treatments or adhesive grip strips will keep the surface of your decking safe throughout the winter months.

7.Check fencing. If any of your panels or posts are loose, the chances are they won't survive high winds this winter. It's a good idea to replace them now to avoid the possibility of flattened fences – and long waits for repairs – later in the year. We stock a comprehensive range of fencing materials at our depot and we're happy to deliver for free in the local area.

With so many jobs to consider this autumn, you might want to get in touch for some friendly advice from our expert staff. Don't hesitate to give us a call on 01306 628 114, or call into our Kingsfold depot on the A24 just north of Horsham. We hope to see you soon!

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