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A winter check-up for your home protects your investment and keeps you safe

A winter check-up for your home protects your investment and keeps you safe

  • Batteries in smoke alarms should be changed annually, and even those that are wired into mains electricity need regular checkups.
  • Faulty gas heaters can cause fires and dangerous fumes, so they should be checked.
  • To avoid leaks, gutters and downpipes should be cleared of leaves, and roofs inspected



Sydney, NSW (7 June 2017) – The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a mild winter in most of the country[i], yet many Australians can still expect a fair serve of cold and blustery days, causing wear and tear on their homes, as well as fire hazards.


“Magazines are filled with health tips for beating the winter blues, but a winter health check on your home is just as important for protecting your investment and ensuring your family’s safety,” says Angus Raine, Chairman/CEO of leading property group Raine & Horne.


Even though temperatures are forecast to be warmer this winter in the southern part of Australia[ii], if you have a fireplace in your home, chances are you will want to enjoy a roaring fire.


“If you’re using a wood fire, then you should arrange to have the chimney swept at least once a year to ensure the chimney is not blocked and there is no soot build-up,” says Gerard Horton, Principal of the Sydney Chimney Sweep Company.


“For gas fires, make sure the flue outlet is not blocked or obstructed as this can prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from escaping your home.”


Mr Horton says that depending on your location, maintenance by a professional chimney sweep will cost around $220.


“This is often money well spent, as the last thing you want is a visit from the Fire Brigade responding to a fireplace that doesn’t work properly,” Mr Horton says.


No matter what type of heating you use, now is the time to check that smoke alarms are in good working order, according to Jeremy Batten from Smoke Alarm Testing Services (SATS).


“The smoke alarms in many new homes are wired into the mains electricity; however, this doesn’t exempt them from the need for regular checkups, while their backup batteries also need to be regularly replaced,” says Mr Batten.


The majority of older homes in Australia have battery-operated devices, says Mr Batten.


“This means owners need to be aware that batteries should be replaced a minimum of once a year, while the sensors built into the smoke alarm can tend to fail from about the ten year mark, but in some cases it will be earlier than this.


“Whether you have one alarm or five in your property, SATS charges a smoke alarm inspection fee of $99 per property.


“As part of the review, our inspectors will clean all smoke alarms, replace batteries where required, check alarm expiry dates, verify they meet Australian standards and so on.”


Also from a safety standpoint, if you have gas heating, you should get your appliances regularly maintained by a qualified and registered agent. A gas heater should be serviced at the first sign of trouble and every two years before winter heating season, according to Better Health Victoria.


“A faulty heater can be the cause of a fire, while its fumes can also be dangerous to the inhabitants of a home,” says Mr Raine.


Mr Raine notes it’s also important to care for the exterior of your home in winter.


“A leaky roof is bad enough in summer, but it’s certainly not something you want to deal with in chilly winter weather, so check gutters and downpipes, which may be blocked with leaves, leading to leaks,” says Mr Raine.


“At the same time, look for any slipped or broken tiles on the roof, as that will let water seep into your ceilings and your home’s interior.


“If you don’t want to get up on a ladder yourself, having a roofing specialist check everything for you will cost a few hundred dollars. It’s a good annual investment, as you can head off bigger problems, which can be expensive to repair.”


Exterior paintwork, particularly on eaves, also should be checked annually to see if it’s time to repaint.


“To protect your home from winter winds and cold temperatures, and from the heat and effects of sunlight in summer, you need a fresh coat of paint at least every four to five years. If you’re near the ocean, you should be painting even more often,” says Mr Raine. 


“While you can save money by doing it yourself, bringing in a professional house painter has the advantage that they may be able to uncover potential problems that mightn’t be apparent to you.”