As we approach the second half of winter, most of us are now used to being ensconced in the warm, cosy cocoon of our home. But for a lot of people, being at home just isn’t that enjoyable. In fact, according to a recent study by Aspect.co.uk, a property maintenance company providing electricians to London homes and businesses, 64% of people actually feel unsettled when they’re at home. Especially during winter. So what’s going on?
These are typically at their most noticeable just as people are settling into bed. The heating system is cooling off, the outside temperature continues to drop – and if you’ve got a timber framed home, as many do – that’s when the fun starts. As temperatures drop, the timber starts to contract, causing distinctive and quite unsettled yawning, creaking and groaning sounds. For many, this can be disconcerting. But the reasons are pretty harmless. The reverse phenomenon happens early in the morning during winter. The house begins to warm up and the wood expands, creating another symphony of creaks and groans. The good news is, this is all completely normal and isn’t a sign of a maintenance problems.
Another one that gives people the creeps. You walk into a room and you notice a definite chill. There are two potential causes for this; either the room has a draft – possibly coming from a gap in the floor or around a window or door, or the heating system isn’t working properly. To troubleshoot the heating system, start by feeling the radiators. If they’re colder at the top than the bottom this is a sign that they need to be bled. You can do this yourself with a radiator key. If it’s not the heating system, try holding a cigarette lighter around the edge of the window. If it flickers, it’s a sign that cold air from outside is getting in through a gap.
Winter puts great demands on most homes. In the northern hemisphere, winter is the most resource intensive period of the year as we put use the heating more, use appliances more and generally spend more time inside watching TV and charging our phones. If you notice that your lights are flickering or taking a long time to come on, or anything else untoward related to your electrical supply, this is one for a professional. Never attempt to fix an electrical problem at home yourself.
Most winter smells are quite pleasant, but for some householders, winter can bring a signature blend of weird and wonderful aromas – and not all of them are good. When the heating is on more and the windows are open less, lingering, residual smells such as tobacco can become more noticeable. If you notice a damp or ‘musty’ smell, check for leaks and try ventilating the room as this could be rising damp. If you spot a distinctively ammonia-like smell, this could be a sign that mice have found their way into your home.
All of the above problems were cited in the Aspect.co.uk survey as common reasons that people felt unsettled in their homes. And – aside from electrical issues – they can all be tackled without the need to call in a professional.