Christmas is a costly time of year and the last thing homeowners want to spend their money on is emergency home improvement work. Yet, the festive period is a busy time for builders. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) carried out some research and regarding the most common problems homeowners have over Christmas are.
To prevent these issues from occurring, homeowners should carry out a simple programme of maintenance. Make sure you're prepared for any eventuality to avoid any nasty surprises over the festive holidays.
A huge 86% of builders have been called out to fix a leaking roof over winter. If you want to make sure your roof is in good order before a leak occurs, carefully climb a ladder and clear off any debris that has landed on your roof during the summer and autumn months. This will also be a good chance to make sure no tiles or slates have blown off or become loose as this is often the cause of leaks.
Just make sure you have a sturdy ladder, a reliable spotter and make sure your shoes have good grip – safety is crucial. Keeping your roof in good repair now may well save you a headache down the line.
Three-quarters of all builders have dealt with a leaking chimney over winter. If you’re planning on staying cosy this Christmas with an open fire, or just want to roast some chestnuts, it’s important that your chimney is in good working order. Chimney leaks are often caused because of issues with the flashing. A flashing is a sheet of metal that is installed around the chimney to ensure that the connection between the chimney and roof is watertight. If ignored, the moisture caused by a leaky chimney can cause mould, rot, or damage to finishes like plaster, wallpaper or paint. If you suspect a chimney leak, we strongly recommend that homeowners get a professional in to assess the problem.
More than half of builders have repaired damage caused to the property because of blocked gutters. Gutters play a huge role in the structural integrity of your house. If they aren’t cleaned out or if they’re broken, it can result in structural issues and can even make your home damp. To stop any serious problems occurring by a blocked gutter, you’ll need to clean them out. In fact, your gutters should be cleaned at least once a year. A sure fire way to tell if your gutters have become blocked and need cleaning, is if water runs down the side of your home when it rains. They can become blocked because of dead leaves and mosses. It isn’t very glamorous, but you need to use an extendable ladder and wear some gloves to scoop out any debris hiding in your gutter. After you've cleared any blockages, give the gutters a quick rinse with a garden hose as this is also a great way to spot any leaks. If your house is surrounded by large trees, and if blocked-up gutters are a regular problem, you might want to consider installing a gutter guard. A guard prevents blockages from leaves but allows the flow of rainwater to continue.
If you’re going away over the festive period, be sure to leave the heating on low to prevent pipes from bursting in very cold weather. Because water will be continuously flowing, keeping the heating on low will help to prevent water still in the pipes from freezing. It is recommended to leave the heating permanently on and set to at least 13°C throughout winter. Nearly half of builders have been called to deal with burst pipes and so this is a very common problem.
A third of builders have arranged for a broken boiler to be fixed in the winter months. Imagine if your boiler broke a few days before Christmas! The last thing you want is to be left without heating over Christmas, so make sure your boiler has been serviced well ahead of the big day. Have your boiler serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to make sure it’s all working correctly and you won’t be left without heating at any stage.
These preventative measures should help ensure you’re not one of those homeowners who has unnecessary headaches over the festive period. However, if homeowners do need to hire a builder, they should use the FMB’s ‘Find a Builder’ service. After all, even with a maintenance programme in place, unavoidable jobs might still crop up over the Christmas break.