Winter is almost here, and it’s time to get your home ready for the season of chilly weather. While you should make sure your home can handle any season, it is extremely important for the winter months, when cold air can impact critical home infrastructure, from pipes to roofing. On average, one-to-four percent of a home’s value will be spent on maintenance and repairs, and what better time to make sure your home is weatherized than winter?
Here are some handy tips that you can use to maintain your home before Old Man Winter visits your home for the season.
Make Sure Your Heating System Is Ready To Go
First and foremost, you should ensure that your heating system is working in proper order so that it can keep your home nice and cozy for the season. There is nothing worse than your heating system going down when the mercury begins to plummet.
Call your local company that specializes in HVAC services to come and check out your heating unit to make sure it’s running efficiently. If your home heating unit has PVC vent pipes, those need to be cleaned of any debris that may have built up in the pipes as well as boiler systems.
If your home heating system runs on gas, make sure it’s cleaned out every three years to ensure it’s running at peak efficiency when the cold starts to settle in.
No Leaks Are Welcome
An efficient heating system is only as such if your home can retain the heat. In addition to getting your heating system checked, you should also check to see if there are any air leaks.
These air leaks can occur particularly around doors and windows, which causes drafts to leak in and for heat to leak out, making your heating system less efficient and driving up your utility bill. If you find air leaks, make sure they’re sealed up tight so that your heating unit can stay running in top shape.
Check Your Fireplace
You don’t want Santa to come down a dirty chimney and fireplace, do you? Not only that but making sure it’s cleaned out will also do wonders to keeping your home warm.
Make sure your chimney and fireplaces are cleaned out of any debris and check to see if there aren’t any cracks that could form in the chimney. As much as bird nests are cute, they shouldn’t be on your chimney, which will create a fire hazard, so make sure the nest is cleared out.
It’s All In The Gutters And Drainage
In the winter, you’ll have to deal with rain, snow, and ice, which is why you will want your gutters to be fully prepared to handle the oncoming precipitation onslaught.
If you have clogged gutters, get them cleaned out, ASAP. Clogged gutters can cause overflow, which could cause damage to your roof. For homeowners living in colder climates, making sure your gutters are free and clear is especially important because, as the gutters fill up with ice, a clogged system could put a strain on the system.
Clean out the dirt and leaves and flush the gutters clean to ensure that they have the room needed to drain out the winter precipitation.
While you’re cleaning your gutters, don’t forget about clogged drains, which, if not properly cleaned, can cause water damage in your home. Make sure your drainage system is working properly so it can carry the water away from your home, not to it.
Roof Checks Are Crucial
One thing that you certainly don’t want to happen in your home is water leaking in from the roof.
Nothing is more annoying than a leaky roof, which can occur due to shingles being loose or missing. For homeowners who live in cold, snowy climates, it is imperative to get your roof checked out for any damage. Before Old Man Winter roars in with a vengeance, schedule a professional roofer to come in and take a look at your roof. If there are any signs of damage, get it fixed as soon as you can.
There’s also a chance that a roofer could spot significant damage to the roof that needs to be taken care of. So if serious maintenance or a new roof is needed, call your local roofing contractors to come in and do the job before winter does even more damage to your roof.
Check Your Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detectors
With a large percentage of fires occurring in the winter months, now is the time to check those batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Ensure that your detectors are working properly, and if not, then the maintenance solution is simple: Switch out the batteries. Checking to make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order should be part of any winter home maintenance’ checklist.
Have Your Trees Trimmed
While you’re checking your house for winter maintenance issues, head outside and take a look at the trees near your home.
Before the winter sets in, call a tree trimming company to come out and trim your tree branches to ensure that it won’t do any major damage. A winter storm can cause major stress to tree branches, which can cause them to fall on your home and do damage. One of those damages is to fences, and if your fence becomes damaged, fencing contractors can come out and repair the damage.
Keep Your Entryways Free and Clear
You don’t want to come home and play slip-n-slide on your walkway. To prevent this, ensure that your entryways to your home are free and clear of ice, snow, and other natural hindrances.
Put a mat on both the inside and outside of your home so that shoes can be properly cleaned. Also, put a boot tray near the doorway so that people won’t trek ice and snow into your home. You may also want to stock up on salt so that your feet will have more traction on icy walkways.
Keep Guard Of Your AC
Although you won’t need your air conditioner through the winter months (unless you live in Florida), it is still important to keep guard of your AC unit while it’s not being used.
Yes, an AC unit is a condensing unit that is made for the outdoors, but those units can still fall to damaging icicles and other winter-related elements. Some homeowners may move to cover their AC units until the winter thaws out, but that isn’t recommended because outdoor animals will sense it as a warm spot, and that presents its own set of problems.
Instead, put a sheet of plywood and keep it held down by some bricks. It’s a simple, yet effective way to protect your air conditioner and prevent you from having to spend big bucks on expensive maintenance of the AC system when spring comes back. If you have window AC units, you should take them out and put them in a safe spot until the weather warms up.
Beware Of The Ice Dams
For homeowners who will soon face the harsh realities of winter, ice dams can be the devil.
An ice dam is caused when snow and ice melt back up, which causes leaks on your roof. There is no greater enemy to a roof than water, and these leaks can cause damage. If you have a roof that’s already in bad shape, you should consult a roof installation company and have your roof replaced.
For a home that doesn’t have any significant maintenance issues, have your roof checked for any issues that could cause ice dams to be a menace to your home during the winter.
Check The Pipes
Winter can do a serious number on pipes.
If you live in a part of the country that frequently sees freezing temperatures, making sure your pipes are winterized is essential to your home maintenance checklist. A frozen pipe can do all sorts of damage to your home, especially when they thaw out, which can lead to gallons-upon-gallons of water being released in just one day. That sort of heavy water flow can cause damage to the structure of your home.
Before the onslaught of winter arrives, contact a plumber to look for signs of weakness in your pipes, and also see if there’s any wear-and-tear on faucets. If you’re a DIY-type homeowner, insulate your exterior pipes by using insulating tape to protect them from the freezing temps. Also, shut off your external pipes and make sure that they’re drained of water to keep the liquid from freezing and cracking the pipes.
If your pipes do freeze and you need residential plumbing service to come out and repair the damage, paint the exterior pipe in bright colors so that the plumber can find it if you need assistance in the winter.
Invest In A Generator
During a winter storm, there is a great chance that your home will go dark. No electricity means no heat, and that is never a great time.
To ensure that your basic utilities can function when the power fails, you may want to invest in a generator. Several generators are on the market at various prices that can keep your basic utilities like heat, internet, and refrigerator going if there is a chance that you and your family could be in for a prolonged power outage.
Let There Be Outside Light
The winter months — especially in colder states — tend to be darker and colder. To bring a little bit of light to the season, make sure your outdoor lights are functioning properly.
Days are much shorter in the winter, meaning that by the time you get home from work, it will already be nighttime. This can cause a hazard after a snowfall, and a dimly lit walkway can cause you or a family member to trip and fall on ice-covered walkways.
Having efficient and well-lit lighting can prevent that. In particular, invest in motion sensor lighting that can sense when a person is entering a walkway and immediately light it up.
Keep Your Patio Furniture Safe
It’s safe to say that you and your family won’t be doing much outdoor barbecuing during the winter months, so take steps now to protect your patio furniture.
If left outside, your furniture can succumb to the elements, like rust. Preferably, you should move your patio furniture inside, like in a garage or shed. However, if you don’t have space, cover your outdoor furniture with a heavy tarp so that they’ll be ready for the spring.
Have Your Home Ready For For The Storm
It’s only a matter of time before the first winter storm blows in, so while it’s calm, make sure your home is ready for the storm.
Ensure that your shovels and snowblower is easily accessible and ready to go when the snow is done falling. If the power in your home goes out, have a winter survival kit in hand. Some items that you should include in the kit are flashlights, batteries, non-perishable food, and a charger to ensure your phone stays charged in case an emergency occurs. Having your home prepared for a storm will make life a bit easier once it passes.
Follwing these simple winter maintenance tips are important to ensuring that your home will be able to make it through another winter. In a time when you could be home a lot more often than normal, keeping your home maintained for the season is imperative.
Make sure your home’s heating system is working efficiently and ensure that there are not any cracks where winter cans sneak into your home. Keep your pipes protected and ensure that there are not any issues with your roof that could require roof damage repair.
Your winter maintenance checklist should also include making sure your trees are trimmed, the AC unit is protected, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, and you have a winter survival kit that is well-stocked and ready to go in case of an urgent emergency such as an extensive power outage. Also, have a list of professional contractor phone numbers, from residential fencing and plumbers, so that you can easily reach them in case of a serious issue that occurs in your home.
Following these maintenance tips will ensure that your home remains warm, cozy, and comfortable during the heart of winter.