Winter is a magical season to spend at home. We all want to be able to enjoy the shorter days and longer nights from the comfort of our homes while we watch the season change.
To truly enjoy this winter at home with peace of mind, you’ll want to complete a home maintenance checklist to prevent unexpected costs, ensure your family’s safety and warmth, and keep your home in the best shape for the winter season ahead.
1. Weatherproof Windows & Doors
One of the best preparatory measures you can take to keep the cold from infiltrating your home is to weatherproof your windows and doors. Any leaks or cracks could lead to a chilly household and increased heating costs. Either weatherstripping or caulking will do the trick for minor leakage issues, but for any severe problems you may want to consider a replacement.
2. Protect Your Pipes from Freezing
Burst pipes can be disastrous regardless of the season, but winter temperatures pose a greater risk than any other time of the year. Be sure to wrap interior pipes to provide them some insulation against the change in temperature. You’ll want to bring all hoses inside but remember to turn off your exterior water source before you do.
3. Prepare for a Winter Storm
Being fully prepared for the winter ahead includes completing both preventative home maintenance and disaster preparedness tasks. Keep a supply of flashlights and batteries handy in case a power outage should occur. If you have a fireplace, stock up on firewood so you’ll have plenty of fuel for your heat source. It’s best for your family to put together an emergency kit and evacuation plan so you’re prepared for any local weather emergencies.
4. Chimney Sweep and Fireplace Maintenance
We become more reliant on fireplaces, wood burning stoves, and chimneys to heat our homes during the winter. Accordingly, it’s crucial to prepare for the uptick in their usage. Clear out your air vents before your daily fires begin. When your fireplace is not in use, be sure to close the damper to save energy. Clogged chimneys can lead to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Investing in a chimney sweep can save you money in the long run, while avoiding health scares.
5. Clean Out Your Gutters
After all the leaves, pinecones, pine needles, and other autumnal debris have fallen, it’s best to clean out your gutters in preparation for winter. By keeping your gutters clean you’ll avoid gutter damage from melted snow draining improperly. Make sure your downspouts are pointing away from your home’s foundation to prevent basement leaks and flooding.
6. Heating System Maintenance
Keeping up on your heating system’s efficiency is an integral part of winter home maintenance. If you use a furnace, be sure to clean out your air filters and ducts, making replacements as needed. Covering your HVAC system can help to prevent damage from any debris or moisture getting in. To protect against heat loss, seal your ducts with mastic tape or foil tape.
7. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans in your home, there is a handy trick you can use to improve your home’s heating efficiency. By reversing the direction of your ceiling fan—running the blades in a clockwise direction—you’ll create a slight updraft, forcing warm air near the ceiling downward.
8. Bring Your Plants Inside
The winter season usually spells trouble for your potted plants. However, there are methods to keep them alive indoors through the winter months. You’ll want to provide continual air circulation, so keep a fan blowing in the direction of the plants. It’s best to mirror the conditions the plants will face outdoors, so you can afford to keep watering to a minimum. Since it is a harsher season, keep a close eye on your plants as the winter progresses.
After your checklist is completely crossed off, you’ll be able to kick back, relax, and enjoy your winter at home in comfort knowing your home is primed and ready for the winter season ahead.
As the days shorten, you can mitigate many mid-winter headaches with some preemptive prep. Proper weatherizing can help protect your home from preventable damage, save money on energy costs, and, most importantly, keep you and your loved ones safe and warm throughout the winter season. Here is a useful checklist to manage your weatherization project. Setting aside some time on a couple of weekend days should be more than enough to knock this out:
Cracks & Leaks
Examine your entire house for any cracks and leaks, from your roof to your baseboards, to your basement and foundation. With unpredictable winter weather, these cracks and leaks are how the outside gets in, causing cold drafts and water damage.
Luckily, most cracks don’t require a professional to handle it. Depending on your house type and age, it’s likely you’ll be able to do it yourself with supplies from your local hardware store.
Windows & Doors:
Gaps and breaks in windows and doors is another way to let the winter in your home, and they can let heat escape, raising your heat bill throughout the season.
Make sure seals are tight and no leaks exist. If you have storm windows, make sure you put them on before the cold season begins. Additionally, add weather-strips and or a door sweep to prevent drafts and keep the heat in.
Clean your rain gutters of any debris. In colder climates, the buildup will cause gutters to freeze with ice, crack and then leak.
Once you have removed the residue from the drains, test them by running hose water to make sure cracks and leaks have not already formed. Even in warmer locales, the buildup can put undue stress on your roof and home.
Protecting your pipes from freezing should be your number one priority this winter. A burst pipe can quickly become a disaster in any home.
Remember to turn off your exterior water source and take in your hose. Internally, wrapping your pipes is a recommended precaution to take.
Annual checks are vital in avoiding dangers such as house fires. Replace filters if you use a furnace and clear out any vents and ducts that carry heat through them. If you have baseboard heat, wipe them of dust and remove any debris that might catch fire.
Fireplace & Wood Burning Stoves:
Make sure to have chimneys and air vents cleaned early in the season if you are planning on warming your home with a wood-burning source. When your fireplace is not in use make sure to close the damper, some resources estimate an open damper can increase energy consumption by as much as 30%, increasing your bill about $200.
Bring your patio furniture inside or cover it for the winter. Don’t forget other, smaller items such as your tools, including the hose and planting pots. Clear out any piles around the side of your house, checking for cracks and holes in your home and foundation as you go so to avoid providing shelter for unwelcome guests over the cold season.
If your property has large trees check for loose branches and call someone to trim back any limbs that may fall in your yard, on your roof or even damage a window.
Lastly, make sure your emergency kit is up to date with provisions, batteries, fresh water, food for animals, entertainment for kids – especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.
Your roof is one of the most important and expensive assets of your home, but no other element is quite as valuable. While the average lifespan of a roof is about 15 years, careful homeowners can extend the life of their homes without enduring too many hardships. Take a look at these three quick maintenance tips to help your roof last.
Keep Your Gutters Clear
Debris that accumulates and clogs your gutters adds extra weight and pulls at your roof’s fascia, which can be a costly fix. Look down the length of your roof for any signs of sagging or bending – that’s a sure sign your gutters are carrying too much weight and pulling at your roof.
Don’t forget the downspouts either, and don’t be fooled by easy-flowing water. Moss and algae buildup on and around your roof can slowly eat away at your roofing material and severely compromise its integrity.
Focus On The Attic
The exterior of your roof isn’t the only area you should focus on as your attic is your roof’s first line of defense against damage with a two-pronged approach: insulation and ventilation.
Insulating your attic has the double benefit of keeping your home’s internal temperature consistent while also preventing vapor and moisture buildup on the underside of your roof. When combined with proper ventilation your attic can stay dry and keep your roof’s rafters safe from moisture damage.
A great way to keep properly ventilate is to add a fan or dehumidifier to the attic.
Catch Problems Early
Check on your roof regularly, an easy time to remember to check is with every change of the season, or after a significant storm. Catching small issues early on will save you money in the long run, so utilizing the services of a reliable, professional roofer is an invaluable asset. As with any working professional, it’s a good idea to establish a working relationship with a roofer and even consider scheduling a yearly checkup for your roof just to make sure there aren’t any problems sneaking up on you. After all, spending a little each year to maintain your roof is a lot better than dropping $15,000-$50,000 on a new one, right?
Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance:
Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage.
Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation.
Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight-legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise, household spiders do help eliminate other bugs.
HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay.
Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way!
Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice workout and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up.
Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space.
Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon.
Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up the grill, yet, but you can get started on your outdoor entertaining checklist. Check your lawn, and if you have some spare spots start filling in with seed. Check your outdoor plants, prune, plant bulbs, start to replenish the soil for your garden, and mow, so you are ready to start when the season allows.
Speaking of the grill – if you have a gas grill you will want to pull this out and perform a maintenance check. Clean everything up and check to make sure all the gas lines are clear, as these can get clogged after sitting idle all winter. Make sure the grill is clear of spiders too, as they can build webs in the tubes, causing damage to your grill. You can start to bring out your garden furniture too, or clean it up if you left it covered outside all winter. Because before you know it, it’ll be barbeque season!