Plan ahead to avoid the worst of winter

IT’S getting a little harder to get out of bed in the morning and more tempting to linger in a hot shower, sure signs that winter is on its way.

Financial services company, DirectAxis, gathered tips from some handymen about common problems that can occur during winter and how to prevent these.

The advice covered three broad themes: planning ahead, preventative maintenance and conserving heat.


The laws of supply and demand dictate that if you wait until temperatures plummet before stocking up on fire wood or getting more gas for the gas heater, you’ll pay more. Alternatively you’ll be faced with Murphy’s law and the supplier will have run out.

Buying winter essentials such as firewood, gas or even replacing old or broken heaters is best done before the weather turns cold. Also bear in mind that power cuts are more likely in winter either because high winds blow trees across power lines or increased demand puts strain on electrical infrastructure. These are much easier to deal with if you’ve got working torches and batteries in the house. Rechargeable solar LED lights are also a good idea, as long as you make sure they’re charged. A skottelbraai or gas-fuelled camping set are quick to set-up and easy to cook on when the power goes out, but entirely useless if you’ve run out of gas.


All the handymen agreed that preventing problems is always less expensive than fixing them afterwards. You can do most preventative maintenance yourself at little or no cost, although it’s best to get professional help if you’re unsure how to go about it or don’t have the right tools.

Simple maintenance includes making sure gutters are clear of leaves and other debris. While you’re checking the gutters also take a careful look at the roof for missing, broken or shifted tiles or other issues that could result in leaks or the wind getting in and potentially causing more damage. If you are looking forward to a nice roaring fire, check your chimney. You should be looking for blockages such as birds’ nests and soot build-up. Check the outside lighting. This is a sensible security precaution because it gets dark earlier in winter. Not only will well-lit paths and approaches potentially discourage criminals, but will help prevent you, your family or guests tripping and falling on cold winter nights or early mornings.


Whether you’re using a gas or electric heater, or a fire to warm your house, heating costs money. The first thing to consider if you want to save heat and money is to make sure the house is well insulated. If you don’t have insulation in your ceiling, it’s worth considering. While you’re in the ceiling, check to see if there’s a cover on the geyser. If not, you may want to think about getting one. Heating water is also expensive.

DirectAxis marketing head, Marlies Kappers, said that preparing for winter doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

“Some sensible spending before it gets cold might mean avoiding bigger costs when a tree falls down or a gutter breaks in the middle of winter.”

For more information on household maintenance and renovations visit:

— Supplied.

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