The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a mild winter in most of the country, yet many Australians can still expect a fair serve of cold and blustery days, causing wear and tear on their homes, as well as fire hazards, writes Angus Raine, Executive Chairman, Raine & Horne.
- Batteries in smoke alarms should be changed annually, and even those that are wired into mains electricity need regular checkups.
- Faulty gas heaters can cause fires and dangerous fumes, so they should be checked.
- To avoid leaks, gutters and downpipes should be cleared of leaves, and roofs inspected
Magazines are filled with health tips for beating the winter blues, but a winter health check on your home is just as important for protecting your investment and ensuring your family’s safety.
Even though temperatures are forecast to be warmer this winter in the southern part of Australia, if you have a fireplace in your home, chances are you will want to enjoy a roaring fire.
If you’re using a wood fire, then you should arrange to have the chimney swept annually to ensure it is not blocked with soot. For gas fires, make sure the flue outlet is not clogged as this can prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from escaping your home. Depending on your location, maintenance by a professional chimney sweep will cost around $220.
No matter what type of heating you use, now is the time to check that smoke alarms are in good working order. The smoke alarms in many new homes are wired into the mains electricity; however, this doesn’t exempt them from the need for regular checkups. Many older homes in Australia have battery-operated devices. These batteries should be replaced a minimum of once a year, while the smoke alarm sensors can tend to fail from about the ten-year mark. Expect to pay around $100 for a smoke alarm inspection.
Also from a safety standpoint, if you have gas heating, you should get your appliances regularly and before winter heating season grips, according to Better Health Victoria.
It’s important to care for your home’s exterior in winter. A leaky roof is certainly not something you want to deal with in chilly winter weather, so check gutters and downpipes, which may be blocked with leaves, leading to leaks. At the same time, look for any slipped or broken tiles on the roof, as that will let water seep into your ceilings and your home’s interior. A roofing specialist can check everything for you for a few hundred dollars – a good annual investment that can head off bigger problems, which can be expensive to repair.
Exterior paintwork, particularly on eaves, also should be checked annually to see if it’s time to repaint. To protect your home year-round against the cold and heat, aim to apply a fresh coat of paint at least every four to five years. If you’re near the ocean, you should be painting even more often.