With autumn well and truly here, it’s important to make sure your home and garden are properly prepared and protected.
We know that with the darker nights rolling in and a chill in the air that DIY will probably be the last thing on your mind, but it really is worth tackling a few key autumn projects, such as the ones we’ve listed below.
Don’t worry though; they’re all relatively easy jobs!
They won’t require huge amounts of effort to complete either – plus, once they’re done, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of your hard work for the rest of the year.
So go on, get the tools out and get cracking, you won’t regret it…
Get to grips with the guttering
Many professionals recommend cleaning your gutters at least twice a year – once at the beginning of spring, and once at the beginning of autumn.
Checking your gutters helps to prevent them from clogging up, which can then cause roof leaks, or damage to your home’s foundation.
This is why it’s so important that you ensure your gutters are properly capturing the water that hits your roof, and carrying it safely to the ground.
It goes without saying that you’ll need a ladder to clean out your guttering.
But, if you don’t have a firm enough base, you can always consider using ladder stabilisers, or a telescopic gutter cleaner, which can help to get the job done quickly and easily.
Ever found a blocked outlet in your guttering?
We’d recommend using a small trowel to remove the debris. Once cleared, use some water to then rinse the downpipe.
If you’re worried this issue might happen again, you can also consider fitting a gutter guard, which will help to prevent any further build up.
Repair ruined paving slabs
Over time it’s not uncommon for paving slabs to become damaged, or to even sink slightly due to ground movement.
You’ll be pleased to know that any damaged or uneven paving slabs can be quite easily replaced. However, you just need to be careful not to damage any surrounding slabs and end up doubling your work!
Using a plugging chisel and club hammer; firstly you’ll need to chip out the pointing surrounding any troublesome slabs.
Once completed, you’ll then need to carefully lift up the slab up using a shovel, and then insert a broom handle under the slab, which will allow you to easily roll it out of the way.
Using a bolster chisel and club hammer you’ll need to break up and remove the old mortar underneath so that you can relay a new slab.
The next step is to lay a fresh bed of mortar, mixing four parts sharp sand to one part cement, then wetting the back of the new slab before using a timber off cut and club hammer to press it into position.
To finish, fill the surrounding joints with dry mortar.
Remember, if you need to further break any slabs or concrete into manageable sizes so they can be carried, it’s also handy to have a sledge hammer lying around.
Get your radiators ready
We know that having problems with radiators can be a real pain – and bleeding your radiators may help to get rid of any air trapped inside.
This means one less thing to worry about as the months get colder!
First things first – you’re going to need a radiator bleed key (these can be bought from a DIY shop – take a look at our stockist locator to find your nearest) and a dry cloth.
You’ll also need to wait until your central heating system is completely turned off.
Once all the above boxes are ticked, you can then follow these steps:
- 1. Make sure both your central heating and hot water are off (it’s really important!)
- 2. To catch any water that may come out, place your dry cloth under the radiator
- 3. Find the square bleed screw – this will be at the top of the radiator on the side or back
- 4. Insert the bleed key, turning it slowly anticlockwise until you hear a hissing noise. Make sure this is by no more than two turns
- 5. Wait until the hissing stops and you’ll then start to see small amounts of water coming from the bleed screw
- 6. It’s now time to retighten the screw – just not too tightly!
- 7. Don’t forget: If you have a combination boiler, check the pressure gauge, and if it’s below normal, you’ll need to add water following the instructions in your boiler manual
- 8. Last but not least – put your heating back on!
Insulate, insulate, insulate
Just because the temperature’s going down, it doesn’t mean your utility bills have to go up!
One great way to help keep costs to a minimum is to add insulation to the loft.
The insulation can take many different forms too, from expanded polystyrene panels that you fit between the rafters, or reflective foil that you staple to them.
Alternatively, you could install a multi-foil insulating quilt at the rafters. It’s more expensive than other products, but it also gives a much higher level of insulation.
Remember that you should only use rafter insulation as a top-up – and that you’ll also need 270mm insulation at the joists, otherwise you’ll be wasting money on heating unoccupied space!
It’s also important to bear in mind that when you fit insulation at the joists on the loft floor, that it will reduce the amount of heat that rises into your loft.
In winter this area will therefore get colder – so if you use the loft to store items such as books or photographs, make sure you also insulate the sloping roof, to keep more heat in and to stop precious items from perishing.