As the weather starts to change, learn how you can keep your home looking nice and running fine this winter. Don’t get stuck in the cold this winter.
Cold weather can be hard on a home. Whether you live in North Dakota or the Deep South, the winter months can bring weather extremes that can damage your home’s windows or roof, cause flooding in your basement or leave you shivering. As the mercury drops, don’t face winter weather unprepared. Use these winter house maintenance tips to prepare your home and family for what lies ahead this winter season.
1. Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment failures account for 15 percent of all home fires. Furnaces and heaters can also produce deadly carbon monoxide gas, which is colorless and odorless. Make sure that checking the batteries in your smoke and fire detectors is high on your winter home maintenance checklist.
2. Get Your Furnace Serviced
Get your furnace cleaned and serviced early in the season, before cold temperatures set in and your local HVAC professionals are swamped with furnace service requests. Getting your furnace checked out can nip potential problems in the bud and save you the inconvenience and discomfort of dealing with a furnace breakdown in the middle of winter.
3. Insulate Pipes in Unheated Areas
Pipes near windows, doors and in unheated parts of your home can freeze and burst, leading to flooding and expensive plumbing repairs. Make sure that pipes in any unheated parts of your home are properly insulated. Disconnect the garden hose from the outside spigot, turn off the water to the spigot if possible and cover the outdoor faucet with a freeze cap.
4. Prepare for the Worst
Extreme weather is becoming more common, and you need to be prepared for a storm that could leave you without power or heat during cold weather. Stock up on batteries, blankets, non-perishable food, bottled water, first-aid supplies and flashlights. Consider buying a solar smartphone charger or stocking up on rechargeable power banks. Installing a generator could literally save your life, especially if you live in a rural area.
5. Test Your Sump Pump
If wintertime means wet weather in your area, test your sump pump before it hits. A properly functioning sump pump will keep your basement dry. Pour a few gallons of water into the sump pit to make sure that the pump kicks on. If it doesn’t, replace it. On average, a sump pump lasts about 10 years.
6. Inspect Your Roof
Your roof protects your home’s structure and everything inside it from the forces of nature. Get up on a ladder and take a look at your roof before it’s covered in snow. You’re looking for cracked or missing shingles, broken shingles and grit that has been washed into your gutters. Check for broken seals around the chimney or around any roof vents, too.
7. Clean Your Gutters
While you’re on the ladder looking at your roof, clean out the gutters. Gutters that are clogged with debris could allow water to seep down behind the siding on your home’s exterior, causing serious water damage. Clean your gutters before winter sets in to protect your home from the melting snow and ice.
8. Flush Your Hot Water Tank
Flushing your hot water tank clears it of mineral sediment that can build up in the tank over time. That sediment can cause your tank to rust prematurely, shortening its life. Flush your hot water tank at least once a year. It’s an easy DIY job.
9. Protect Your Air Conditioner
Falling ice, branches and other debris can damage your outdoor A/C. Avoid waterproof A/C covers, as they can encourage small animals to take up residence inside your unit. Instead, simply place a piece of plywood on top of your unit to protect it from falling debris.
10. Spruce Up Your Entryway
If the concrete or wood on your front walk or steps is damaged, repair it before cold weather sets in. Check the handrail to make sure it’s sturdy and well-anchored. Stock up on rock salt. Get your indoor entryway and mudroom ready for winter traffic, too. Set out boot trays and put down mats inside and outside to protect your floor from snowmelt and rock salt. Make provisions for drying wet coats, gloves, scarves, hats and boots in your mudroom.