10 Home Maintenance Tasks to Do Before Winter
As the days get shorter and the temperatures get colder, you may start to think of the upcoming holidays and snuggling up under a warm blanket at home. But before you start sipping hot cocoa, there are some projects around the house you may want to take care of first.
Here are 10 home maintenance tasks to consider completing before you settle in for the cold winter.
1. Check Your Furnace
It’s a good idea to do some basic maintenance to help keep your heating system running smoothly through the winter. Check your furnace filter, and change it if it looks dirty, says ENERGY STAR. The filter should be replaced at least every three months. It’s also a good idea to have your furnace cleaned and checked by a professional annually, says ENERGY STAR.
2. Inspect Your Roof
The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends having your roof inspected twice a year to check for any signs of damage. Whether you inspect it yourself or hire a professional, spotting potential problems, like damaged or missing shingles, may help you avoid a bigger problem and potentially more expensive repairs down the road. That’s why it’s a good idea to make any necessary small repairs before the sleet, ice and snow of winter arrive.
3. Fill Gaps Around Windows and Doors
Drafts around windows and doors can leave you feeling cold, and they could be wasting energy as your furnace works harder to warm that cool air. Angie’s List recommends applying caulk around the window trim to seal off any drafts. Another option is to install weatherstripping around edges of doors and windows to create a tight seal, says Angie’s List. You can also make a simple door draft blocker to help keep heat from escaping under your door.
4. Test the Sump Pump
As water drains from under and around your home, your sump pump pushes it out of the house and away from the foundation. Have a professional inspect your sump pump each year to ensure it is working properly, says the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. You can also consult your sump pump’s owner’s manual and perform some basic maintenance and regular testing yourself.
5. Inspect Your Chimney and Fireplace
There’s something special about a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, but it’s important to get your chimneys, vents and fireplace cleaned first. The National Fire Protection Association recommends having a professional chimney sweep clean and inspect your fireplace and chimney. If you have a gas fireplace, your chimney and flue should be inspected for any blockages, says the Chimney Safety Institute of America. A professional will also inspect the gas lines and vents for leaks and can make necessary repairs.
6.Clean Your Gutters
Clogged gutters can lead to issues like water damage, loosened gutters, ice dams and issues with insects and rodents. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are cleared of leaves, sticks and other debris at least twice a year — whether you handle this chore yourself or call a professional.
7. Store Outdoor Furniture
Winter can be hard on patio furniture. Wicker, plastic, resin and wood furniture should be cleaned (follow the manufacturer’s directions) and stored indoors for the winter, says HGTV. Teak and metal furniture can be stored outdoors year-round, although you’ll want to clean it appropriately to help protect it during the winter, says HGTV. Consider covering furniture to help protect it, and store cushions and patio umbrellas indoors.
8. Switch Ceiling Fan Direction
When the weather gets cooler, flip your ceiling fans’ reverse switches so that the fans move in a clockwise direction. ENERGY STAR says this creates an updraft that pushes the warm air that rises toward the ceiling back down into the room. This means you may be able to turn down the thermostat and save on your heating bills.
9. Turn Off Outside Faucets
In cold weather, water in exterior pipes can freeze and cause pipes to burst. So, before the temperatures dip, disconnect garden hoses from outdoor faucets. If your exterior faucets have shutoff valves, The Family Handyman recommends turning them off. Then, release any water remaining in the pipe by opening and closing the outside tap. You can also help protect exterior faucets with an insulated cover, says The Family Handyman.
10. Get Your Winter Weather Supplies
Don’t wait for winter weather to arrive to head to the hardware store. Check out the stuff you already have and replace damaged snow shovels or other items. Don’t forget to pick up ice melt and salt, as these items tend to go quickly when storms approach.
Whether you live in an area where rain is common during the winter, or you’ll be spending the cold months dealing with snowstorms, getting these items checked off your home maintenance checklist can help you be prepared for the season.
This article highlights examples of precautions you can consider to help maintain your personal property. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what’s appropriate and always consider safety.
Originally published on September 30, 2013.