Trustmark is urging homeowners to give their homes an Autumn MOT, and to use reputable tradesmen to carry out any maintenance required.

"Many winter-related disasters can be prevented if people plan ahead in the autumn to protect their homes from freezing temperatures, the wind and rain," said Stuart Carter, head of PR and marketing at TrustMark. "We want homeowners to be prepared in case the worst does happen and to be able to rectify any problems as soon as possible, either by doing the work themselves providing you have the capability or call in a reputable tradesman. Taking some precautions before the winter weather kicks in and dealing with problems at an early stage can ward off the need for more extensive and expensive repairs later on down the line."

TrustMark, the government-endorsed quality mark that helps people find local reputable tradesmen, in collaboration with its scheme operators, has compiled a checklist that offers some autumn home maintenance tips:

Clean out your gutters and make sure downpipes and any outlets are clear of leaves and debris and repair any leaking gutters if needed. If a gutter is then blocked up with water it could freeze and pull away from the building, causing further damage, and a backlog of water could run the risk of freezing which could result in burst pipes.

Inspect the roof, carefully and from the ground, for any broken, loose or missing tiles, slates, mortar or flashings, and watch for any early signs of leaks or condensation on the ceilings, especially at the outer edges of the ceilings.

In the case of ice and snow on the roof, make sure there is nothing that can be damaged should it slide off when thawing.

Getting boilers serviced or inspected should always be at the forefront of any autumn MOT, as a boiler breakdown is a grim experience. Many homeowners do not realise that a well-maintained boiler will burn less fuel, so having your boiler checked and your heating system serviced will save money and, most importantly, could potentially avoid a terrible tragedy.

Ensuring your loft has adequate insulation and fitting draught excluders will help keep your house warmer and save you energy. Too few households take sufficient measures to fully insulate their homes – these are often simple steps, some costing very little, and it can mean a much warmer home and so less need to turn up the thermostat. For example, if you have less than 10cm of insulation in your loft you’ll be wasting energy, so top the insulation up to 27cm and you could save around £150 a year.

Floorboards also lose a lot of heat. Insulation sealing between the gaps can save about £25 per year, while insulating a hot water cylinder with a jacket at least 75mm thick could save more than £50 each year. Lagging all hot water pipes could also save over £25 a year. Homeowners should also have any pipes with cracks or leaks repaired immediately.

Carter added: “However hard we try to protect our homes, many of us will still require a good tradesman. Trustmark is a UK wide website listing licenced firms, which have received on-site inspections to look at their quality of work by experienced independent inspectors. Trustmark is a not-for-profit social enterprise operating to government-endorsed standards.”

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