Article: Speak Easy

Matariki  Maintenance In  The Winter  Weather with Michael BoturMatariki Maintenance In The Winter Weather with Michael Botur

Okay, okay, look, before I begin whinging about what the winter weather is doing to our homes: we do have it pretty sweet in Northland. Our winters consist of a lot of sunshine with a bit of rain and frost.

It was Matariki a few weeks ago, so no matter how cold it gets, don’t forget this is supposed to be a time of hope. If you plant the right crops now, you’ll reap the rewards you’ve invested in a few months. Same goes with investing in maintenance.

Here are a few suggestions:

- Got lush trees and bushes looming over your house? Give those bad boys a trim
as you don’t want them blocking sunlight from your home or drizzling leaves into
the roof gutters. They should break down into compost if cut up right and put in a
compost pile.

- If you’ve changed from an open fireplace to a heat pump, you’ll want to make
sure your chimney is completely block off, as you’ll be passively losing heat from
your home out the chimney every day it’s not blocked.

- If you’re trying to work out where a draught/air leak is coming from, light a stick
of incense and look for windy draughts blowing the smoke away, which
should lead you to the source of the draft. Block the draught perhaps with foam
weatherstrip tape.

- Does your home ventilation system have a removable filter? Might be time to
change the filter.

How about your lawn, then? If your lawn is flat or has a dip which captures water, you might want to do a couple things to prevent it getting waterlogged

- Firstly, consider whether you can stop the rain from getting concentrated in your
lawn. Excess water needs to be directed towards stormwater gutters down the
end of the driveway, out on the road. If you see pools of water forming in holes/
pits, try identify if that water is running off one of your roofs, flashings or walls.

- If your lawn / garden is at risk of catching too much water, you’ll want a French
drain to carry it away. Also known as a rubble drain, rock drain or agricultural
drain, it’s a simple concept: you drill holes in a pipe and lay that pipe at the
bottom of a trench of coarse gravel. The air gaps between the gravel should allow
flooding to trickle down into the pipe and get carried away by the pipe wherever
you would like the water to go. It should save your building foundations from
being bothered by water seeping into cracks (that water can expand and damage
the concrete if it freezes overnight)

We’ve got to stop water getting inside, too, so this winter take a look at

- Ensuring your extractor fans and sending the wet air far away from the woodwork
of your home, to prevent rot

- Clear out your downpipes which connect to storm drains – you will majorly regret it
if too many sticks, stones and leaves clog the drain.

- Don’t let water flow from the garden under your home, as it could rot any wooden

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.

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