Autumn is here and winter will soon follow, and now, as we all spend time confined during lock down, is the perfect opportunity to start prepping our homes for the coming colder, wetter weather after months of harsh sunshine.

“These extremes, coupled with general wear and tear, can cause damage and deterioration to our homes and so preventative maintenance is key to not only getting your home ready for winter, but also keeping it in good condition all round and maintaining its value,” says Orlando Luis, CEO of BRIGHTS Hardware who has prepared a list of cost-saving DIY maintenance tips, many that you can do now without the need for extra materials, to help you protect your house against the elements of the upcoming winter months, and to keep you and your family comfortable and warm.

1) Hit the roof

“Start at the top and check your roof for leaks,” says Luis. “Look for damaged, loose or missing tiles, lifting or rusted roof sheets, and if your roof is flat, check for signs of blistering or bubbles. Treating potential leaks before the wet weather arrives can save thousands in water damage caused by leaks.”

 2) Come clean with your gutters

Make sure that your gutters are clean and clear of debris such as dead leaves and grass. Blocked gutters overflow and can cause damage to your roof, house exterior and even foundation. Also check for any damage to the gutter system – cracks, sagging, gaps at the joins etc.

3) Put the seal on

Check all of the wood trim on the exterior of your home for damage or rotting. This includes any wood trim around your exterior doors and windows, roof eves and verandas.

“Check wooden decking to see if it needs a fresh application of varnish. Even if your deck is made of treated or rot-resistant wood, it still needs protection. To do this, simply pour some water on it – if the water beads up, then you’re good. If the wood absorbs the water, it’s time to clean and seal your deck again.”

4) Don’t skim the surface

It is not only wooden surfaces that require attention, cautions Luis. “If you have a concrete patio, driveways or walkways, you need to make sure they’re protected as well. All concrete eventually develops cracks and it is important to take the time to inspect your concrete and fill in any cracks before you apply sealer so that water cannot get in over the winter,” says Luis who advises that, if you have at home during this time, you can apply a concrete sealer to all of your flat exterior concrete surfaces.”

 5) Check the drainage around your home

Make sure the soil around your foundation hasn’t settled and created areas for water to pool. If you find a low spot fill it in with some soil. Then go around and check your rain gutter downspouts. Make sure water is getting moved away from the home.

6) Check if your walls need to be repainted

Luis says that paint not only makes your home look good, it acts as a protective layer against the elements. “Check if you could do with a coat of fresh paint after lock down. Always choose the best paint you can afford – good quality paint pays for itself in the long run as it last longer so you will need to repaint less often.”

7) Chimney check

Ensure that your fireplace and chimney are in perfect working order before starting to use it this winter. “BRIGHTS recommends that you check for birds’ nests, for any cracks or holes in the chimney flue and in the bricks surrounding your fireplace, and for any other obstructions or faults. A faulty fireplace or unseen obstruction can cause a very hazardous problem.”

8) Mind the gap

Walk around the outside of your home and check every window for small gaps and cracks. Luis advises that once able, replace broken or cracked windowpanes and apply new putty if needed. “Conduct a similar check for each exterior door, and pay special attention to the bottom of each door.”

9) Don’t get caught in the dark

Winter often sees our electrical grid under pressure, meaning a higher risk of load-shedding and blackouts. This is because of an increased demand on the national power grid as more people turn on heaters and lights. “Once you are able to return to the stores prepare for load-shedding with back-up power supplies, such as a generator, a UPS (uninterrupted power supply), solar or battery operated lighting, gas cookers and power packs to keep your lights, cell phones, computers, gate motors, security systems and cookers working at all times.”

BRIGHTS has on-site experts in all of their stores that provides advice and guidance on any home repairs or maintenance. “Whatever you may be wanting to do to prepare your home for winter, our knowledgeable staff members can provide you with all the product insights and information that you need.”

BRIGHTS stores are located in Boston, Blackheath, Langebaan, Mitchells Plain, Montague Park, Plattekloof, Uitzicht and Brackengate. Selected products are also available on the online store at www.brights.co.za.