Winter-proof your house: TV carpenter Walt Collins’ top tips
Five simple tips for keeping your home and loved ones warm and dry this winter.
The coldest start to May in decades is a timely reminder that winter is on its way. And with more of us set to spend more time at home than usual in the coming months, it’s never been more important to make sure your home is as warm, dry and energy efficient as it can be. Carpenter Walt Collins, co-host of Channel 10’s Healthy Homes Australia and Buy to Build, says a few simple jobs that can easily be done in a weekend will not only keep you comfortable as the cold sets in, but will also save money off your heating bill.
Walt’s five simple jobs to prep your home for winter
Dodge the draught
When you heat your home, the hot air rises to the ceiling and cold air is drawn in from outside through cracks around windows and doors. That’s why you get cold feet (cold air sinks, hot air rises).
If you’re in a new home, chances are you’re pretty good for draughts, but once your home is more than 10 years old, those seals around your doors and windows start to degrade.
The easiest way to check for draughts is to hold a lit candle or a lighter up to a window frame, door jam or seal. If the flame flickers, there is a draught.
Fixing this is simple. Most hardware stores sell draft excluder tape, a foam-based sticky tape which you can easily install down the length of the door jambs, around windows where they close and other areas where windows and doors meet the frames. This will dramatically reduce draughts.
Another option is re-caulking along the exterior and interior of window and door frames. Often the old sealants have degraded, so you’ll need to scratch these out and then run a clean line of new caulking along and around the frames. There’s a bit of skill involved in caulking neatly, but a few YouTube tutorials will help you.
Tradie’s tip: Start with door snakes and brushes if you want quick and immediate protection. Door snakes are a great idea and they come in some very cool designs.
Watch out for: Be careful with excluder tape. There are varying thicknesses and widths, so check how tightly your door or windows seal before choosing the thickness.
Banish the damp
Winter can cause problems for both you and your home. Damp air can damage the structural integrity of timbers over the long term, as well as causing paint to bubble and plaster boards to bow. It can also lead to mould which is a health risk, especially for those with respiratory problems such as asthma.
My number one rule as a home expert is good ventilation. You need clean, fresh and dry air in your home. When it’s sunny open a window and the front and back doors for an hour to let the air flow through.
In terms of technology, I can’t live without a dehumidifier. It looks like a small heater, but pulls out the moisture from the air in your rooms and collects it in a built-in bucket which you empty. It will stop that musty smell in walk-in robes or spare rooms. Reputable brands are approved by the National Asthma Council of Australia’s Sensitive Choice program and carry a blue butterfly symbol.
Tradie’s tip: Ventilation is the key. If you think you have a damp problem ask a qualified builder to conduct an audit of the airflow in your home. You may need to get them to install under-house fans to increase airflow.
Watch out for: Condensation on the inside of your windows, mould spores on bathroom walls and damp-smelling rooms are a sign you have a moisture problem. Don’t use bleach to clean it; you need mould-specific cleaning sprays like San-Air mould remover.