We've partnered with Ronique Gibson of Stagetecture to help you prepare your hardest-working systems and appliances for the dreaded "hibernation season."
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by American Home Shield ® but all opinions are strictly my own
It’s that time of year again when the days are shorter and the cold air means your home and family are going to start feeling the drop in the temperatures. While we all love the idea of cozying up around a warm fireplace while it’s blustery cold outside, most of us don’t enjoy our heating unit dying on the coldest night of the year! This season of colder weather termed the “hibernation season” is the hardest on your plumbing and HVAC systems, as well as on your family’s comfort. American Home Shield ® and I have compiled an essential winter home maintenance checklist that will help your home get ready for the hibernation season instead of suffering through it in regret. We also give you some handy tips for organization to ensure your family is ready for canceled school days and winter vacation.
-Protect Plumbing Guide from AHS
For most homeowners, the thought of having to check your plumbing pipes inside and outside of the house is only thought of right before the first freeze of the season. The hibernation season means colder temperatures and this is the time to ensure your plumbing lines are ready:
1. Water Heater: Before the cold season fully sets in consider draining your water heater from sediment that has built up. Over time small pieces of sediments similar to small grains of sand can slowly shorten the life of your water heater. Consider draining it during before winter temperatures plunge below freezing and your water heater has to work harder.
This hot water heater maintenance video from AHS can help.
2. Plumbing Pipes: Leave water dripping in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room and any room you have sinks when temperatures are expected to plunge below freezing. Open under counter cabinet doors around pipes to keep air circulating.
3. Garden and Drain Hoses: Now that the weather is getting colder it is time to disconnect your garden hoses before water freezes inside of them! Disconnecting the hoses also helps your faucet not back up into your internal plumbing system inside your home when frozen.
- Preventative Measures: For exterior water pipes and pipes consider covering them with insulated sleeves. These will help your pipes stay warmer than the outdoor freezing temperatures.
Ensure your Fireplace is Ready for a Warm, Crackling Fire:
When temperatures get cold many homeowners rely on their wood burning fireplaces to help heat their homes. Unfortunately, many accidents occur during the winter season due to dirty chimneys and improper ventilation can cause smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation. Here are some tips to make sure your fireplace is ready:
4. Hire a professional chimney sweep: While there are creosote sweeping logs you can burn in your fireplace to remove creosote from your chimney, it is still important to have a professional take care of what you can’t see.
- A chimney sweep will:
- Inspect your chimney, smoke ducts, flue pipes
- Help prevent soot fires and gas emissions by inspecting the firebox, smoke shelf and other areas of your fireplace that you can’t reach.
5. Tips you can do for fireplace safety: Once your fireplace is professionally cleaned each season try and keep the firebox free of soot and ashes before you start a new fire.
- Open a window: When using a fireplace allow for fresh air into your home to prevent smoke build-up. Don’t worry the air coming in will go up through the chimney.
- Keep flammable items away: Ensure furniture, throw rugs and blankets, pillows and other furnishings are at least 4-5 feet away from the fireplace while in use.
Keep your House Warm and Air Clean with these HVAC Maintenance Tips:
Your Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) are one of the most important systems in your home as it controls the comfort level, humidity, and quality of air in your household. During the colder months, your heating system or furnace can run double duty trying to compete with the outdoor temperatures. These American Home Shield recommended maintenance tips should be checked now to ensure a comfortable winter.
- Hire an HVAC professional to inspect system: Each season your system should be inspected to ensure it’s working up to its potential. Higher energy bills and your home having problems heating and cooling could be signs of a larger problem.
- Change your air filters monthly: This tip is one of the easiest because it doesn’t involve a professional and you can do it yourself. Check for the air filter size on the air handler unit and keep a few in storage so they're no excuses when it’s time to change.
This American Home Shield video will show you how to replace a furnace filter:
- Learn how to properly use your thermostat: Many homeowners assume they know how to use their thermostat but several thermostats, especially Smart thermostats can actually learn your behaviors and lifestyle habit and adjust to save you energy. Take time to educate yourself and your family on how to properly use your thermostat before the cold weather sets in.
Organize and Clean Your Home Before Your Family Stays Indoors:
Each winter the opportunity for your family to stay in the house for longer periods of time is inevitable. Whether you’re getting ready for extended family and friends for the holidays or you’re gearing up for snow days from school, these organizing and cleaning tips from American Home Shield will help.
6. Clean out the kitchen and pantry: Have you noticed around hibernation season is when we like to cook, eat and entertain more? Your kitchen becomes the main hub of activity and cleaning out your refrigerator, pantry and utensil drawers will help the chef and family find exactly what they need. Throw out expired food in storage cabinets and why not install new shelf paper where one-too-many containers have spilled?
7. Declutter closets and entertaining rooms: Playing board games, video games, watching television and lounging around the family room are popular pastimes throughout the colder season. Before the chill sets in why not purge old toys and magazines? Donate old coats, boots and winter weather in your hall closet and give to charity or your local church. Visit your local discount store and stock up on new games, crossword puzzles and adult coloring books for those cold nights when the electricity goes out.
This hibernation season is going to be cold, but before it sets in you will be prepared with these home maintenance tips to ensure your family is warm, healthy and comfortable. If you’d like to find more tips from American Home Shield on preparing your home for winter, take a look at this video:
Is your home protected in case an unforeseen problem occurs? American Home Shield can help with a home warranty. It can help repair or replace your broken appliances and home systems.
Whether you are ensuring your plumbing and HVAC systems are working properly or you’re gearing up for more time indoors, you will be ready this winter season.