PROPERTY

The chores that reduce the risk of fire in your home

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With winter well and truly upon us, there are a few housekeeping jobs to do to keep your home safe.

"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.

Here are some key chores to consider.

Get your chimney swept

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"If you're using a wood fire, then you should arrange to have the chimney swept at least once a year to ensure it 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." Depending on your location, maintenance by a professional chimney sweep will cost around $220, says Horton.

Check your smoke alarms

Batteries in smoke alarms should be changed annually, and even those that are wired into mains electricity need regular check-ups. "The smoke alarms in many new homes are wired into the mains electricity. However, this doesn't exempt them from the need for regular check-ups, while their back-up batteries also need to be regularly replaced," says Jeremy Batten, from Smoke Alarm Testing Services.

Check your gas heater

A gas heater should be serviced at the first sign of trouble and every two years before the 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 Raine.

Look after the exterior of your home

"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 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."

Exterior paintwork, particularly on eaves, also should be checked annually to see if it's time to repaint, he adds. "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 Raine.

Maria Bekiaris is editorial campaigns manager for Canstar and former deputy editor of Money. She holds a Bachelor's degree in business.
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