As a homeowner, you know how important it is to stay on top of home maintenance year round. But there are some maintenance and safety checks that are especially crucial to do before cold weather hits and sticks. Winter can wreak havoc on your home that is extremely costly to repair, but a nightmare scenario is entirely preventable. Your goal is to be proactive now to make sure your home stays safe, warm, and efficient all winter long.
Ensure your home’s safety
● Fireplace - If you plan on having a wood-burning fire this year, check your fireplace for damage and make any needed repairs now. Also check for soot and creosote buildup in your chimney, and clean it out if needed. Soot and creosote buildup can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in your home and can also cause chimney fires, so this is an essential step to staying safe this winter.
● Heating system - Have a reputable contractor inspect your heating system. Getting a tune-up now will make sure your system is working properly and can prevent costly repairs later in the season. A properly functioning heating system also helps prevent the risk of carbon monoxide leaking into your home. Now is also a great time to vacuum around vents and change air filters to keep your heating system running better all season long.
● Check safety devices - Between woodburning fireplaces and the drier air, winter can be a time when fire risk is greater. Check that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working and replace batteries. Make sure you have fire extinguishers in easy to access spots throughout your home, and check that they haven’t expired.
Prevent structural damage and leaks
● Inspect your home’s exterior - Check your foundation, driveway, stone walls and retaining walls for any cracks or other signs of structural damage. Cracks in your foundation may indicate structural damage that could be costly to repair later in the season, and they can also lead to critters seeking a warm haven in your home when the temperature drops. Cracks in the driveway could be a trip hazard and can also cause major damage as water seeps in over the winter.
● Clean roof and gutters - Check your roof for signs of damage, and clear away any debris. Clean gutters after leaves have fallen, and rake debris away from your home’s foundation. All of these quick fixes prevent major structural damage, and costly repairs, when winter weather hits.
● Check plumbing - The number one plumbing hazard in winter is the risk of frozen pipes. To prevent this problem before it arises, make sure all pipes are well insulated, especially any in basements or attics where the temperature is lower. Check all plumbing throughout the house, including toilets, bathtubs, and your dishwasher, for any leaks now because these could cause serious problems and costly fixes later on.
Maximize energy efficiency and comfort
● Seal off gaps - One of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient and stay warm all winter is to seal cracks in doors and windows. Check out Today’s Homeowner for an excellent guide on caulking and the different types of weatherstripping.
● Upgrade windows - If your windows are older, Better Homes & Gardens recommends upgrading them for more energy efficient ones. This small investment will improve your home’s value and pay off quickly in energy savings.
● Inspect insulation - Insulation can degrade over time, and improvements to insulation options in recent years are more energy efficient. Check to see if your insulation needs a boost and maybe even an upgrade. This is another small investment in energy efficiency that will pay off big time.
Winter home maintenance is all about making sure your home stays safe and warm throughout the chilly season. If you put off these simple tasks now, you run the risk of encountering major, and costly, problems when the weather gets harsh. Give your home the quick tune-up it needs to enjoy the winter and sail smoothly into spring.
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