Winter Home Maintenance Tips
Many people look forward to winters not only because it’s time for their favorite festival but also because it’s the best season to sip on some hot coffee and hot chocolate. Some others may detest the season too, because of how extreme the weather conditions could become.
Whether you enjoy the winter season or not, you’re bound to experience it each year. And you need to start prepping your home if you don’t want the burden of costly repairs later. Harsh winters can be disastrous for homes that aren’t well prepared, so it’s best to start with the checks and cleaning well in advance. Have a look at these winter home maintenance tips that will help you along the way.
Check And Clean Your Gutters And Drainage
In many parts of the US, winter brings along increased rainfall, so you need to be prepared for that as well. Even if you don’t do this task regularly, it’s important to clean your gutters before the onset of winters. Clogged gutters can easily overflow and break, putting strain on the roof itself. If filled with ice, it could also cause thawing damage and increase chances of roof damage. Well-maintained gutters can thereby also save you money in the long run.
After cleaning your gutters, also check for any other signs of drainage issues. Check your attic for mildew and your basement for any water damage stains. If you notice any stains, it could indicate that your drainage system isn’t working well or isn’t able to take the water far enough from your house. You can try to fix it by extending your downspout to direct the water further away.
Inspect Your Fireplace, Chimney, And Furnace
If your fireplace is your regular source of heat, you’d want to make sure that it’s all set before it starts getting too cold. Remove and clean out any unburned pieces of wood from the fireplace. Along with that, make sure to get your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. This can prevent chimney fires and reduce the chances of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Just like your chimney, you should also get your furnace inspected every year if you have one. Make sure to regularly change your furnace filters to ensure that your furnace works smoothly. You can also consider cleaning your air ducts or hiring professionals to help you with the same.
Seal The Doors And Windows
It’s best to seal all leaky doors and any gaps in the windows before the onset of winters. Leaks or cracks in walls, doors, or windows could prevent proper heating and thereby increase your energy bills. You can replace poorly insulated doors made of wood with ones made with steel or fiberglass.
If you have old doors and windows, consider adding new weatherstripping. You can use window film to insulate your windows or install a removable magnetic installation. These can be energy efficient and can help in noise reduction as well. Alternatively, you can also use blackout curtains on your windows if you wish to keep them open during the day and then close at night to keep the heat in.
Test Your Sump Pump
A sump pump is your saviour against floods, condensation buildup, and water from drains. Make sure it’s in working condition before winter hits. Otherwise, you could end up with foundation damage or a flooded basement. After locating the exit pipe, you need to check it for any dirt or debris. You need to ensure that the water is being directed well away from your home’s foundation. If you’re located in an area that experiences heavy rainfall and snowfall, it may also be worth investing in a water detector to further protect your basement from moisture.
Free The Radiators
To ensure that they run at full capacity and efficiency, your radiators will need bleeding each winter. How you can go about it is by turning on all your radiators to the maximum temperatures that they can reach. After waiting for a few minutes, turn off the central heating and let the radiators cool down.
Focusing on one radiator at a time, you could start with the one closest to the boiler. Open the bleed valve after turning off the radiator. Put a tray under the valve to catch the water and let out all the air. Once the air is out, you can close the valve and repeat the process for all your other radiators.
In addition to bleeding your radiators, you also need to ensure that there is enough free space around the radiator to maximize the heat generated. You can also put aluminum foil behind the radiator to prevent the heat from escaping through an exterior wall.
Clean Your Dryer Vents
Your dryer is likely to get more use as the colder months set in. You have to remove built-up lint from the dryer to improve your household energy efficiency and also reduce the risk of a fire hazard. Start by cleaning your lint filter that is usually found toward the front of the dryer. Using a vacuum, you can scrape out any lint and replace the filter after cleaning it.
Next, you can clean the lint vents that are usually found at the back of most dryers. With the help of a flathead screwdriver, loosen the clamps to pull the vent away from the wall and the dryer. Use a dryer vent duct brush to brush down the piping by holding the vent upright. After the cleaning, you can reconnect your vent and turn the dryer on for about 15 minutes. This will blow out any remaining lint in the tubing or if there’s anything stuck in the outer vent.
Check Your Electrical System
Your home’s heating system becomes one of the most important things during winter. Carefully check your heating system, all the filters, and replace them if required. Not just your heating system, but you also need to keep an eye on your overall electrical system. Schedule an electrical maintenance tune-up and inspect wires for bad insulations or any discoloration.
You can also use a multimeter to test the power flow through the electrical circuits. Make sure to check everything from your extension cords to wall sockets and test your ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) too. It’s best to hire a professional to help with the inspection if you aren’t very familiar with the electrical system in your house.
Weatherproof Your Pipes For The Cold
Freezing water can cause serious problems for the pipes in your home. It could cause your pipes to crack and burst, wasting gallons of water and causing structural damage. Before the weather becomes extreme, make sure to check all your pipes for any signs of wear out. If you notice any moisture on connectors or faucets, you need to replace these parts immediately.
As for your external pipes, turn them off at the mains and make sure they’re fully drained. You can also insulate your pipes, especially those located in the garage, basement, or near doors and windows.
Be Winter Storm-Ready
Winters can be unpredictable and so can storms, freezing rain, and blizzards in this weather. Make sure to keep your winter home and car emergency kits ready with necessities like flashlights, water, non-perishable food, blankets, and first-aid supplies. If you have a generator at home, you would want to make sure it’s in working condition. Another handy tip is to keep a battery-operated or solar-powered radio that can be used to check the weather conditions at times when the cell phone reception goes out.
Trees surrounding your home could also cause damage during a winter storm. Take care of low-hanging branches and remove any dead limbs. A buildup of heavy snow on a tree limb could increase its risk of breaking which could cause property damage or injure people. Make sure to brush snow off tree limbs after every big snowfall.
While the climate varies from place to place, winters in some places in Chicago, NYC, and Detroit can be really cold and chilly at times. In such places being prepared for the weather is the best way to go forward. All these winter home maintenance tips will help you keep your home warm and safe for the chilly weather.
You can ensure that all the cold and wet stays outside by regularly checking your home, weatherproofing, and performing preventive maintenance. If you need help with any of the tasks, you could also hire helpers who would assist you with your winter home maintenance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Cheapest Way To Insulate Windows For Winter?
Insulating your windows is one of the best ways to keep your home prepared and warm during winter. One of the cheapest ways of insulating windows for winter is with bubble wrap. It’s easily available and you can use it to cover all kinds and shapes of windows. Another cheap alternative is to use rope caulk. You can easily seal all your open gaps in the windows using rope caulk.
How Can I Make My Home Maintenance Easier?
Home maintenance does take some time and effort, but keeping your house clean and tidy regularly can make the process much easier. Make sure to regularly clean your vents, coils, pipes, and electronics like your air conditioner and humidifier. Change filters as and when necessary and replace door seals that are rusted or worn out. If you’re on a tight schedule and can’t figure out the time or labor, you could also hire helpers to assist with your home maintenance chores.
What Should An Emergency Kit For The Winter Contain?
If you’re living in a place that experiences cold and harsh winters and are planning to drive around, it’s always advisable to be ready with a winter car emergency kit. Keep a home survival kit handy as well. A basic winter survival kit usually includes batteries, flashlight, gloves, boots, blanket, water, snacks, and a first-aid kit. Also make sure that your car is equipped with tire chains, jumper cables, ice scraper or snowbrush, and road flares.
How Can I Protect My House From Freezing Weather?
The first thing that you should do to protect your house from freezing weather is to seal all holes and cracks. It’s also important to guard your water pipes, add adequate insulation, and clean the gutters. In some cases, you could also set your faucets to a slow drip, especially when temperatures dip well below freezing. Keep the water shutoff accessible, in case a water line ever freezes and bursts.