For many homeowners, seasonal maintenance can be a chore. However, by taking a couple proactive steps, you can easily prevent damage this winter. Before the weather changes, there are some things around the house you might want to check on. For instance, making sure that your fireplace and chimney are properly maintained, insulating pipes to prevent freezing and installing storm doors to mitigate heat loss. Here are 10 precautions for your home this winter.
1. Check Heating System
Performing an annual system check for your heat pump or furnace is crucial to preventing possible issues during the colder months. Depending on the type of heating system you have, you will want to test your thermostat, air filter, radiators or oil tank.
2. Perform Roof Maintenance
Did you know that ice is one of the most common causes of winter roof leaks? Ice dams form when the snow melts and refreezes on your shingles and gutters, often causing costly repairs. If snow is regularly in the forecast for your area, contact a roofing professional to see if they can improve roofing insulation to prevent serious damage.
3. Fireplace and Chimney
If you have a working fireplace, it is very important that you get it maintained seasonally. Animals such as squirrels and raccoons regularly make homes in unused fireplaces, and the debris they bring into your chimney can cause serious issues. If you use your fireplace regularly during the cooler months, you may also have a buildup of a sticky substance known as creosote, which is highly toxic and the leading cause of chimney fires.
4. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
During the winter, you and your family may spend more time at home and indoors. You may run space heaters in your bedroom for extra warmth, or turn on the oven a bit more often to bake holiday cookies. Using these appliances more frequently increases your chance of a house fire. Checking the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors ensures that you are protected in case of an emergency.
5. Insulate Pipes
Frozen pipes are a pain to deal with, and can be an expensive fix. Additionally, no one wants to be without water in a possible snowstorm or with the chance of icy roads preventing you from running to the grocery store for backup. Especially if you live in an older house, properly insulating your pipes is a necessity. Water pipes can freeze much more easily in the winter, especially if you leave for holiday vacation and turn the heat down in the house. While some projects may require the help of a professional, there are a few DIY pipe insulating options you can consider if you want to try insulating pipes yourself.
6. Trim Trees
If you live in a region that regularly deals with ice and snowstorms, make sure to trim tree branches around your home. Look for any dead or unhealthy looking branches that may break under the pressure of an ice storm, and be sure to remove any tall trees or limbs that hang over the roof of your home.
7. Clean Gutters
Gutters should be cleaned as needed, which is often a few times a year, depending on your circumstances. While cleaning gutters may be the last thing you want to do on a beautiful autumn day, it can save you money and a headache later. Clogged or dysfunctional gutters can store ice, often breaking the gutters and leading to drainage issues around your house.
8. Install Storm Doors
If you live in a colder climate, your home probably has two sets of panes in the doors and windows. Installing storm doors and windows prevents heat loss in the cooler months, saving you money on your heating bill. It also mitigates outside drafts, so that you don’t feel an icy breeze in your living room on a cold day in January.
9. Reverse Ceiling Fans
Reversing your ceiling fans is a trick that many homeowners forget about. If you have ceiling fans in your home, there is probably a setting that reverses the fan so that the panels push warm air down to the living space, rather than pushing it up towards the ceiling. While it may seem like a minor fix, reversing your ceiling fan can play a key role in proper air circulation on chilly days.
10. Cover Patio Furniture
Outdoor spaces may not be used as often in the winter, but you definitely want to protect them for the next warm spring day. Protect patio furniture by storing it properly, either by covering it with a waterproof cover or tarp or putting it inside a storage shed or garage. Keeping your patio furniture safe from cold temperatures will help extend its lifecycle, meaning more nights on the patio to look forward to once the weather warms back up.
Home Maintenance Tips
By taking these simple steps to prepare your home for winter you can avoid costly repairs and headaches during the cooler months. Installing storm doors, insulating pipes and checking smoke detectors keeps you and your family safe and warm this winter. If you are preparing for upcoming snowstorms or especially cold weather, consider taking these 10 precautions for your home this winter.