As colder temperatures and rain have arrived, it is finally starting to feel like winter. While local weather is not nearly as severe as many other parts of the country, it still helps do go through a general maintenance checklist. Here are our top 10 winter home maintenance tips you should have completed yesterday!
Clean rain-gutters of leaves and elements: The purpose of rain-gutters is to carry water from your roof away from your home’s foundation. Downspouts that terminate right next the exterior can cause over saturation of the soil and potentially lead to settling of the foundation. Additionally, clogged rain-gutters become very heavy and can cause wood rot to fascia boards if water is not able to flow out of the gutter.
Visually inspect the exterior of the home: Check for and repair cracks at your foundation, siding or stucco to prevent moisture intrusion into your home and make sure windows and doors are adequately caulked and sealed. A water-tight exterior can keep winter elements from wreaking havoc on your home.
Check your roof: Missing shingles, standing water or deteriorated sealant at roof penetrations may be a sign that your roof is damaged or becoming vulnerable. Call a licensed roofing contractor to inspect your roof and discuss recommended repairs BEFORE it starts raining. Preventing a roof leak can save you from costly damage to the inside of your home.
Trim trees and shrubs: Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees. Keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your home to help prevent clogged rain-gutters and from plants growing up the side of your home (especially if you have wood siding). Any moisture that constantly rests against wood will eventually cause rot. Tree trimming also prevents damage to the exterior of your home during high winds.
Check handrails, walkways, and lighting: Damaged walkways and steps are a hazard all year round, but their dangers are compounded when the weather gets wet or when it is dark outside. For best safety measures, take steps to repair damaged walkways and illuminate all access points from your home to the exterior.
Update your basic emergency supply kit: Keep a duffle bag with the essentials, including bottled water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, extra batteries, a can opener, first aid kit and blankets. Don’t forget to include any items your pets will need plus medications and additional supplies if you have an infant, such as diapers and formula.
Inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: If not already installed, make sure you have a smoke detector at each bedroom in addition to common areas. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of your home. Test the batteries to ensure they are functional – nobody envisions a disaster but this simple task has the potential to save lives.
Tune up your heating system: Hire a HVAC professional to perform annual inspections of your furnace to make sure it is not emitting high levels of carbon monoxide and is up to current safety standards. Often times, there may be gaps at ducting in the attic or subfloor area that can be easily repaired to help save on energy costs.
Check your windows and doors: A home with air leaks is like a coat left unbuttoned. If there is cracked or broken glass, replacing the glass before cold weather arrives will improve insulation. Pay special attention to caulking and weather stripping at your doors and windows. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gaps around windows and doors can increase your heating bill by up to 10%.
Reverse the direction on your ceiling fans: This simple step will force hot air near the ceiling down toward the floor to circulate throughout your home.
If you have completed this checklist, you may just save yourself a lot of money in energy bills and prevent some potentially serious repairs in the future. Relax, admire your work and have a safe winter!