Winter storms and severe colds can wreak havoc on your home. Iced pipes, snow-covered driveways, and frozen gutters are all potential hazards. If we consider the statistics, winters can cause damage of up to $1 billion per year to US homes.
That’s why all homeowners need to have a winter home maintenance plan. A little preparation can go a long way, whether keeping the interiors warm or the exteriors safe. Here are a few maintenance tips to help you get through winter without bursts and shivers.
Seal Your Windows and Doors
Does your home feel draughty? Do you feel uncomfortably cold in winter, despite the heating? Do your energy bills seem higher than they should be?
If so, you probably have leaky windows and doors. These are one of the most common sources of heat loss. And the good news is, they’re also one of the easiest to fix.
To seal your windows and doors, you’ll need to caulk the gaps around them. Use a caulking gun to spread a good amount of caulk around the perimeter of your doors and windows.
For best results, use a high-quality, weatherproof caulk. It will prevent the caulk from cracking or peeling over time.
Ensure Your Water Heater is in Working Order
Your water heater works all year round, but it’s especially taxed in the winter. Cold weather can cause the water inside the tank to cool, which means the heater will have to work harder to heat it. It can put a strain on the system, causing it to break down.
To prevent this, bleed your water heater regularly to release any built-up sediment in the tank. It will also enhance the efficiency of the heater.
It’s important to note that water heater repair is a job best left to professionals. If you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, hire a water heater repair service to do it for you. They’ll identify potential problems and fix them before they cause severe damage.
Maintain Your Heating System
Your heating system will work overtime during the winter, so it’s essential to check it regularly and ensure it’s in good working condition. If you have a furnace, replacing the filter every few months is crucial. A clogged filter will make your furnace work harder and could lead to a fire.
You must also:
- Check your thermostat to ensure it is operating properly
- Tune up the heat pump at peak efficiency
- Clean the internal vents so the furnace doesn’t overheat
- Keep the external unit of the heat pump free of snow and ice
- Inspect your fireplace to ensure there are no cracks in the chimney
- If you use a wood-burning stove, make certain the flue is open when you’re using it
These are all skilled tasks that require the help of a professional, so don’t hesitate to call in reinforcements if you’re not comfortable doing them yourself.
Don’t Neglect Your Gutters
Your gutters keep your home safe from any water damage. Therefore, they must be in good condition. During fall, leaves and other debris can build up in your gutters. Some homeowners also find critters like rodents and birds nesting in their gutters.
All these can accumulate to form a blockage that prevents water from flowing freely. As a result, rain and melting snow can overflow and cause water damage to your home’s exterior and foundation.
So, clean your gutters timely. Use a gutter scoop to take out all the gunk. Next, flush the gutters with a hose to clear any remaining dirt. Installing gutter guards is also a useful preventative method that you can try.
Weatherproof Your Exterior Pipes
One of the most common winter home maintenance issues is frozen pipes. When the water inside the pipes freezes, it expands and puts pressure on the pipe walls. It can result in the pipes cracking or even bursting. If this happens, you’ll have a big mess on your hands, which will be expensive to repair.
To avoid this, insulate your exterior pipes with pipe insulation sleeves available at most hardware stores. You can also keep a space heater where your pipes are located or open cabinet doors to allow the heat from your furnace to reach them. You can also seal any cracks or holes around the pipes to prevent cold air from seeping in.
Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a home’s safety system must-haves. These devices help to alert you of a fire or carbon monoxide leak, so you can take action to avoid disaster.
It’s essential to regularly test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries at least once a year. Also, vacuum the sensors to remove any dust that might prevent them from working correctly.
Since having more than one of these devices in your home is a good idea, ensuring they’re interconnected is also important. That way, if one goes off, they all will.
You can buy interconnected smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, or you can purchase a separate interconnecting module.
Keep an Eye on Your Roof
From the scorching sun in summer to the icy winds and snow in winter, your roof takes a beating all year long.
So, you must inspect your roof regularly and ensure it’s in good condition.
Look for any missing, cracked, or damaged shingles. If left unchecked, you may have a mold problem.
Also, check the flashing around your chimney and vents to ensure it’s not loose or missing. You can do this by looking for gaps in the sealant. If you see any, reapply caulk or sealant to prevent water from seeping in.
Another potential problem is an ice dam which results from melting snow that refreezes at the edge of your roof, forming a dam that prevents adequate water drainage.
If you have an ice dam, you’ll need to remove it carefully to avoid damaging your roof. You can break it with a shovel or an ice pick. You can also use heat tape to melt the ice dam.
Winterizing your home may seem like a lot of work, but it’s certainly not something you can put off until next year. By taking care of these maintenance tasks, you can avoid bigger problems. Plus, you’ll stay warm and cozy all winter long.
Start now so you can enjoy winters without freezing or any repair bills. And don’t forget to grab your supplies of hot chocolate and warm blankets.