During the winter months, it's essential to keep your home as safe and dry as possible.

Cold, damp conditions and stormy days can cause a number of issues in and around your home, but some simple home maintenance can keep things winter-proofed and in good working order.

1. Seal in the heat

A surprising amount of heat can be lost from your home through small gaps.

If your windows and doors rattle it’s likely they have gaps that need sealing. This can be done with relatively inexpensive weather stripping.

Caulk should also be applied to gaps in stationary sections around doors and windows, where the window and door frame meet the wall.

2. Maintain good gutter hygiene

Remember to check and clean gutters regularly over winter. Use high pressure water to push leaf litter over the gutter’s edge but try to avoid pushing debris to the downpipe.

It’s often more effective to clear them by hand, then give them a final rinse with the hose. A spatula and an old pair of kitchen tongs can help you get into tight spots to pull out leaves and other gunk.

Image of man cleaning gutter

3. Unstick old drawers

Old wooden drawers that slide in and out on wooden runners can often swell and get stuck when there’s moisture in the air.

For a quick fix, grab a candle and rub it along the wooden runner and along the edges of the draw where it sits on the runner. Apply a good amount and repeat when the problem reoccurs.

4. Silence squeaky floorboards

In winter, dry conditions within a house can cause floorboards to lose moisture, shrink up and rub against each other; creating a squeaky sound.

This can be annoying, but if it’s just a slight squeak, with no underlying problems, a bit of talcum powder can help soften the noise.

Sprinkle some in the joins between the boards where the squeak is coming from, walk back and forth to work the powder in, then wipe off the excess with a damp cloth.

5. Keep sliding doors moving

In winter, a drop in humidity levels can cause wood to move or expand. In turn, this can cause your sliding door to get stuck in its tracks.

To get it sliding smoothly again, remove any grime and dust on both sides of the tracks with a dry scrubbing brush, vacuum up the dislodged dirt, then apply a multi-purpose oil like WD40 to the tracks.

6. Inspect for good drainage

Make sure rainwater easily drains away from all sides of your home. Garden beds shouldn’t be built up high against the outside wall above the damp-proof course.

Also check that any paving running alongside the house drains water away from, not towards the walls.

7. Keep things trim

Keep foliage and tree branches trimmed back away from the sides of your home and clear of the gutters.

If your garden shears aren’t long enough to reach higher branches for trimming, if you have PVC pipes wide enough to slip over the handles of your shears, they can create a handy extension.

RELATED: How to prepare your home for a storm »

Image of man pruning tree

8. Check chimneys and flues

If you use a wood heater or fireplace, check the chimney or flue for cracks or gaps through which embers can escape.

Outside your home, make sure there are no overhanging branches near the chimney.

Build-up of residue inside chimneys and flues can block them and is combustible so consider using an additive with your fire to help clear this.

9. Repair chipped glass

If you have a small chip or crack in a window in your home, for a simple temporary repair to keep the rain out you can plug it up with some clear nail polish.

Apply enough coats to cover the crack or chip well, allowing each coat to dry in between.

10. Maintain and test your smoke alarm

Unfortunately, electrical faults are extremely common in winter due to increased usage of electrical items such as heaters – so ensuring your smoke alarm is well-maintained is imperative.

To clean your smoke alarm, carefully remove dust and cobwebs from smoke alarm vents with a soft brush.

An insect surface spray used around the unit can also help prevent insects nesting in or around the alarm but be cautious not to spray the alarm itself.

Also remember to test your smoke alarms each month by pressing the test button on the unit until you hear a loud tone.

RELATED: The most common causes of modern housefires »

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Last updated: June 2021