Caring for an old property requires a little extra thought, but the maintenance doesn’t have to be hard work. However, certain jobs should be undertaken annually or bi-annually to prevent damage to your home, and will prove far less costly than having to remedy serious problems that will occur if the property is not maintained. Regularly checking your home for maintenance will also mean that you will spot issues early, and there will be less of a chance of problems developing.

Use our home maintenance checklist to make sure your home is properly maintained and cared for, whatever the season.


Related articles: Basic home maintenance jobs for beginners | Door and window maintenance in old homes | Essential guide to external repairs


Winter

External maintenance

  • Keep an eye out for cracks widening under the pressure of ice. If you spot a new crack or changes to an existing one, take remedial action.
  • Check fences and trees for signs of storm damage regularly — you do not want to risk things falling in bad weather and causing further damage to your property or passersby.
  • After high winds, check your roof for slipped tiles. Standing across the street or down the garden with binoculars should give you a good view, but should you have greater cause for concern, ask a roofer to conduct a thorough inspection.

Internal maintenance

  • Even though it is cold and you may be tempted to keep the heat in, ventilating your home by opening the windows every so often will balance humidity and prevent damp.
  • Condensation on walls and windows can cause damp and rot window frames. Wipe down window frames if you spot condensation.
  • Use extractor fans and open windows to remove moisture-laden air in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Place moisture traps in cupboards and wardrobes to prevent damp and mould growth.
  • Check pipes for leaks on a regular basis and especially after cold snaps.

traditional house with shutters in spring

Spring

External maintenance

  • Clear gutters and gullies of leaves and other debris, and check the state of rainwater goods.
  • Check the roof for excessive moss growth and loose or missing tiles. If the property is thatched, monitor the roof for signs of decay.
  • Fit birdcages to chimney pots, if not already in place, to prevent birds from nesting in them.
  • Use binoculars to check the state of your chimney stack. It may need repointing or the pot may need securing.
  • Assess the state of your exterior paintwork. If you spot blistering or peeling, arrange for the exterior to be decorated when the weather is consistently warmer and drier.
  • Check external walls for cracks in the brickwork or render and assess the state of the pointing.
  • Clear leaves, soil and debris from the bases of walls to help prevent damp occurring.
  • Ensure any air bricks are free from dirt and cobwebs.
  • Clean the windows and check the state of the glass and frames.
  • Take a look around your garden for signs of winter damage, such as cracked walls, decaying fences and plants that have not made it through the cold spells.
  • Sweep and clean garden paths and maintain any decking, cleaning it annually to prevent the build up of a slippery moss surface.
  • Clean external decoration, such as ornate terracotta work or stonework. Use a soft brush to sweep away dirt, only using a stiffer brush or damp cloth for more stubborn grime. Remember, you’re only trying to lift dirt to prevent build-up and overcleaning can cause damage.

Internal maintenance

  • Pull furniture away from walls to air the space and check the walls for damp and mould patches.
  • Open all of your windows and give your home a good air. We tend to block up draughts and hinder ventilation in winter to keep the house warm, making the air stale and raising moisture content, in which mould is more likely to form.
  •  Take down curtains and blinds and give them a good dust. You may want to hang them outside to air, too.
  •  Check pipes for signs of leaks.
  •  Access your loft to check internally for slipped roof tiles and signs of water ingress.

traditional home with conservatory in summer

Summer

External maintenance

  • Carry out any exterior decorating jobs when the weather is dry. If your house is limed, you should re-lime annually, but try to do this in good weather to allow the limewash to dry.
  • Check timbers and timber cladding for signs of decay.
  • Repointing and other work involving mortar is best done in dry weather, so arrange to do these jobs now.
  • Tackle any jobs on the roof now. Urgent repairs should be done as soon as they are spotted (whatever the time of year), but if your roofer advises further work, get it done in good weather before autumn and winter set in.
  • Trim ivy and other climbing plants. Ideally, plants should not grow on your house as they can damage stone and mortar, but where they already exist, the best practice is to trim them regularly, and prevent them from covering windows or blocking gutters.

Internal maintenance

  • Service your boiler and bleed radiators towards the end of summer, in preparation for cooler weather.
  • Fresh air and sunlight help to inhibit mould spores, so throw your curtains and windows open whenever you are in the house.
  • Check seals around baths and sinks to avoid leaks.
  • Monitor for signs of pests and vermin in the loft. Hire a professional to remove wasps’ nests, and check for signs of wood beetle.
  • If you have an open fire or woodburner, get the chimney swept. This has to be done after the start of August when nesting birds have flown — it is an offence to disturb a roost.

thatched cottage with dormer in autumn

Autumn

External maintenance

  • Clear gutters towards the end of autumn, or after trees have dropped their leaves, if possible.
  • Insulate external pipes and taps. Before the first frost, turn off outside taps at the isolating valve.
  • Check external walls for signs of damage and patch up any faults to prevent water ingress over winter. These can be properly remedied in warmer weather.
  • Sweep leaves and debris from paths and wall junctions to prevent damp to lower walls, or accidents caused by slippery surfaces.
  • Cut ivy and other creepers right back to ensure they are clear of gutters.
  • Check for blockages in foul drains by lifting the inspection covers.

Internal maintenance

  • Fit secondary glazing and check draughtproofing around doors, but be sure to leave adequate ventilation elsewhere through airbricks.
  • Insulate taps in cold areas inside, too, such as those in cupboards on external walls, in unheated rooms and outbuildings.
  • Hang heavy curtains over external doors to prevent draughts.
  • Check insulation levels in your loft. Aim for an insulation depth of 270mm.

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