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Winter Proof your Home

How to winter-proof your house and stop mildew and mould wreaking havoc


It always seems as though the minute we pass the shortest day, things should start to look up, weatherwise.

But that’s not what happens. For starters, the day after the shortest day is only a few seconds longer – it’s a few weeks before we notice much difference on that score.

And this is the time the cold weather really kicks in.


The coldest, wettest days of winter are still ahead of us, but there are ways to ensure your house is winter ready. Photo: istock

There are a few things we could check on around the house to make winter pass more smoothly. Some of these ideas cost nothing, and some require considerable expenditure, and might be something to think about for next year, especially if you intend to stay in your home for a long time.

Double glazing, for example, avoids condensation on your windows and keeps the heat in so much better than traditional single-pane windows, and it may be worth budgeting to make that change. Similarly, thermally backed curtains will hold the heat better than thinner versions.

Jeremy Wyn-Harris of Builders Crack says ventilation systems, such as HRV or DVS, are also good at keeping the moisture out of your home, which in turn avoids mildew and mould.


This is a job it pays to keep on top of. Getting rid of the last of the autumn leaves from the gutters is essential. Photo: istock

“This is the time of the year to really deal [with] mildew and mould, so it doesn’t build up,” Wyn-Harris says. “We always say if you find an A4-size area of mould, you should have it tested and contact a specialist. It’s toxic and we need to take that stuff seriously. A large area of mould could indicate moisture problems or a leak.”

Investing in energy-efficient heating is also a no-brainer. “I’m a big fan of heat pumps, either stand alone or ducted,” says Wyn-Harris. “If you live in an extremely cold part of the country they won’t be as effective, but for most places they work really well and are cheap to run.”

The building expert also says if you do have a DVS or HRV system, don’t forget to check the filters and replace them as they can get quite black over the course of a year.

Other suggested annual check-ups for the home include:

  • Getting the chimney cleaned. Some insurance companies won’t cover your house if the chimney is not cleaned once a year.
  • Test batteries in smoke alarms. Photo-electric alarms are also considered a better option than ionisation alarms, so you may like to change if you have the older style.
  • Clean the gutters so they work properly. If they are blocked, rainwater will back up and find the easiest way down, which could be under the roof and into the house.
  • Insulate pipes that could be prone to freezing. It’s also a good idea to insulate hot water pipes inside the house to save energy costs.
  • Check walkways and paths and clear out moss and mould, which will make them slippery in the wet.
  • Check outdoor lights are working.
  • Gardening tools and the barbecue will benefit from a rub-down with oil. And while you are at it, this is the best time to prune plants and trees. Don’t wait till you can see buds, because then it’s too late.
  • Do a visual check of your roof if you can. If anything looks out of place, get it fixed.

And finally, if you have not checked your insulation in several years, Wyn-Harris says it might pay to do this, as insulation can compress over many years and become a lot less effective.

It can also get moved out of alignment if someone has been up in the attic space – if a space has opened up, the heat can escape. This may be a project to think about before next winter.

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