Winter Home Maintenance

Winter is here again, which means not only sub-zero temperatures but snow and ice that can damage your home. As the days get shorter and the temperatures get colder, there are some projects around the house you may want to take care of before settling in for the cold winter ahead.

Avoid spending your holidays handling winter-related disasters with a bit of preventative maintenance. Use these home maintenance tips to spend those cold days warm and cozy.

1. Make sure the caulking and weatherstripping around windows and doors are adequate in order to help reduce heating costs.

 Sealing a house to reduce air leakage is often the least expensive way to significantly save on your heating bill and increase comfort. A thorough job of sealing and weatherstripping will reduce cold drafts and make your home more comfortable.

2. Make sure any firewood stored outdoors is at least 20 feet away from the home’s foundation.

Stacking firewood next to your home can create a launching pad for termites and other bugs to burrow their way into your siding. It can also be a fire hazard. Keeping at least a few feet of space between your firewood stack and any other outdoor structures is also essential. There must be enough space for air to flow through the pieces and keep them dry.

3. Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and the space under the dryer.

Cleaning the dryer vent not only keeps your home safe but also keeps your dryer working correctly and efficiently. A clogged clothes dryer may not just be a fire hazard but can cause your energy bills to increase by requiring longer drying times for your laundry. Many homeowners do not know that if you have a gas dryer, carbon monoxide is vented through your dryer’s vent. The fumes that a gas dryer emits are dangerous. Carbon monoxide will enter your house if these fumes cannot escape through the vent.

4. Test all GFCI devices.

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) can help prevent electrocution. GFCIs are an effective means of protecting against electrical shock. However, they must be tested regularly to verify they are working correctly. The TEST button is there to help you check and ensure the outlet is working correctly. Test your GFCIs once a month and replace defective GFCIs immediately.

5. Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and filters.

Without regular cleaning, your range hood filter can get clogged with grease and grime from cooking, and the air in your kitchen won’t ventilate properly. So, cleaning the filter regularly is best for optimal range hood performance.

6. Make sure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections.

The cord itself is generally fine; it is well insulated with a thick, tough layer of rubber. If the cord is in good shape (no cracks or tears), It is moisture-proof. The problems come at the ends of the cords. If those connections aren’t well sealed against the weather, moisture can get in and cause a short circuit. This will typically cause a breaker to trip before anything bad can happen.

7. Familiarize responsible family members with the location and operation of the main gas valve and other appliance valves.

In case of an emergency, it is crucial to know how to shut off the gas supply to your appliances. Familiarize yourself with the location of the main shut-off valve and ensure it is easily accessible. Shutting off the gas supply quickly can prevent further damage and potential fire accidents.

8. Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring.

Bathrooms are typically exposed to water, moisture, and soap scum. This exposure increases the chances of mold and mildew growth and damage from water leaks. Replacing old caulk or sealing new areas in your bathroom is an easy DIY project that can help protect against water damage.

9. Adjust your ceiling fans.

Using a ceiling fan in the winter may seem counterintuitive, but it could save you on your heating bills. Your ceiling fan can help distribute and maintain heat from your furnace. Your ceiling fan should spin clockwise at a low speed in cooler months. Warm air naturally rises, and the gentle draft created by this setting allows for the redistribution of warm air that tends to accumulate near the ceiling.

10. Inspect and test your sump pump.

Sump pumps are devices that help keep properties safe from water damage. When a storm occurs, sump pumps remove excess water from around your homes the foundation, transporting it a safe distance away. Maintaining and testing a sump pump ensures it will work properly when needed.

11. Keep snow drifts away from your home.

I recommend keeping snow away from the foundation walls to all homeowners. The moisture from melting snow can slowly seep in. Remember, concrete is porous. So, when you shovel your driveway, walkways, and sidewalks, shovel snow away from the perimeter of your home, too. One thing you should NEVER let happen is allowing snow to block the furnace vent. If the exhaust is blocked, carbon monoxide can build up inside. Drifts or not, those vents must always be kept clear.

12. Get winter ready. (shovels and sand)

Sand can help reduce slippery driveways and walkways and ultimately reduce slipping accidents. Sand won’t melt ice or snow, but it can be used to build traction. Be sure you have a good shovel to keep driveways and walkways clear.

13. Stock up on emergency supplies.

Emergencies, such as snowstorms, can happen unexpectedly. You may be without electricity, clean water, or phone service for days or weeks. That’s why having an emergency supply is essential. Having at least a three-day supply of food and water stored in your home is a good idea. Your emergency supplies should also contain flashlights, a radio, and batteries. Depending on your family’s needs, you may also need medical supplies, pet food, or diapers.

14. Call DeBoer Home Inspection!

Call DeBoer Home Inspection to perform a home maintenance inspection as part of your routine home maintenance plan. Schedule your home maintenance inspection by clicking “schedule your inspection” below.