Seasonal maintenance is key to keep your home in good condition, and cold weather is no exception. Here are 10 simple things that can prevent costly repairs.
1. Inspect Weatherproofing on Doors
Why is weatherproofing important?
Proper weatherproofing keeps air and water from entering your home which could raise your utility bills. or cause water damage. If water gets inside your home and goes unnoticed, the moisture can damage the floor and cause mold to grow.
How do I weatherproof my doors?
- Inspect the edges of the door.
- Determine whether or not there is a gap. One trick is to see if there’s any light shining through. If there’s a gap, go to the next step – if not, no maintenance is needed.
- Use caulk to fill in small gaps. For larger gaps, use backer rod.
- If weather stripping is damaged, replace with new weather stripping.
How often do I need to weatherproof my doors?
It’s a good idea to check your weatherproofing on an annual basis or more often if you feel a draft.
2. Clean Out the Gutters
Why do I need to clean my gutters?
Believe it or not, without regular maintenance your gutters can get so clogged that they can actually cause damage, leaks, ice damming, and even foundation issues.
How do I clean my gutters properly?
Using a ladder and a bucket, collect the leaves and debris out of your gutters. Once you’ve finished collecting as much debris as possible, flush the gutters with a hose.
How often do I need to clean my gutters?
Depending on how many trees are around your house you may need to clean your gutters twice a year or every 3 months.
3. Furnace Maintenance
Why do I need to do furnace maintenance?
Regular maintenance ensures that the furnace is in proper working order so you’re not surprised by unexpected problems. Consistent furnace maintenance also helps to prevent corrosion, improve energy efficiency, and prolong the life of your furnace. Furnace maintenance is an easy enough task to do on your own so instead of calling a pro, save your money and follow these steps.
How do I maintain my furnace?
- Check the flue for leaks – Small leaks can be patched with foil tape. Large leaks may require you to replace the flue.
- Vacuum the floor vents – Make sure that the floor vents aren’t blocked and that debris does not fall into the furnace.
- Replace the air filter – Your air filter should be changed about every 3-6 months.
- Clean the combustion chamber – Using a wire brush and a shop vacuum, remove any buildup from the combustion chamber.
How often do I need to maintain my furnace?
It’s best to service your furnace once a year before you need to turn it on for the winter.
4. Water Heater Maintenance
Why is water heater maintenance necessary?
Flushing your water heater can remove sediment from the tank and prolong its lifespan.
How do I maintain my water heater?
Use the directions in your manual. If you’re not handy and don’t like working with tools, you may want to hire a professional to do this. It’s not expensive, and the cost of a maintenance call is small, compared to the benefits of a longer water heater lifespan.
If you want to try it yourself, this guide to water heaters is a good place to start. You’ll save a little money, and learn more about how your water heater works!
How often do I need to do water heater maintenance?
You should maintain your water heater once a year in the fall.
5. Winterize Your A/C System
Why do I need to winterize my A/C?
Your A/C system can be damaged by ice, snow, debris, and other weather-related conditions.
How do I winterize my A/C?
- Remove any grass, leaves, twigs, and other debris from the unit. Then rinse it off with a hose.
- After it’s dry, shut off the power at the electrical circuit, to keep it from switching on if a day is unexpectedly warm.
- Install rubber pipe insulation around the pipes to protect against freezing.
- Cover your unit with a cover or painted piece of plywood, to keep ice, snow, and other debris from building up on it.
How often do I need winterize my A/C?
You need to winterize your A/C every year before it gets too cold outside.
6. Clean & Inspect Chimney and Fireplace
Why do I need to clean and inspect my chimney/fireplace?
Your chimney and fireplace need to be cleaned and inspected to make sure they’re safe to use. The chimney is known to be a weak point in your roof so it’s more susceptible to leaks than other areas.
How do I clean my fireplace?
Lay a plastic tarp down, wear gloves, remove everything in the fireplace.
Sweep interior top to bottom and empty ashes into a pan, throw away.
Sweep each screen with a fireplace brush. Tip: Sprinkle coffee grounds on the ashes to minimize airborne ashes.
To clean brick exterior:
Spray with water and use a scrub brush, then dry with a soft cloth.
Unless your brick fireplace is 50+ years old, you can use hearth cleaner.
Spray with hearth cleaner, rinse with water, dry with paper towels.
For marble and stone:
Spray with water, clean with dishwashing liquid using a cloth, rinse and dry.
How do I clean my chimney?
Call a professional who will be able to give it a deep clean. This will prevent dangerous chimney fires.
How do I inspect my fireplace and chimney?
Generally, a professional is required to inspect a chimney, as they will be able to recognize any issues with your fireplace
How often do I need to clean and inspect my chimney/fireplace?
A regular inspection every year helps keep your chimney and fireplace in good working order.
7. Test Your Sump Pump
Why do I need to test my sump pump?
Your sump pump keeps water out of your basement, and away from your foundation. If it fails during the winter, and water builds up underneath your home, it can freeze and crack, which may cause permanent damage to your foundation.
How do I test my sump pump?
- Find the outside pipe that catches the water as it drains from the pump.
- Check inside the pipe for any clogs, dirt or debris, and remove if found.
- Find your sump pump which should be in your basement or mechanical room.
- Follow the two electrical cords from the sump pump to the electrical outlet.
- Unplug them from the outlet, pull the plugs apart, and plug the pump cord only back into the outlet (the pump cord plugs into the back of the float cord plug). Now you should hear the pump running.
- Unplug the pump, plug the cords back in the outlet with the float first, and the pump cord plugged into the back of the float pump.
- Remove the sump crock lid.
- Using a bucket, pour some water slowly into the crock. Watch the sump pump switch. It should turn on and begin to pump water from the crock.
- Wait until the water pumps from the crock to ensure the pump turns itself off, then slowly pour the remaining water in the crock to ensure the pump turns on again.
How often do I need to test my sump pump?
You should test your sump pump regularly throughout the fall and winter, whenever there is a heavy downpour.
8. Shut Off Exterior Faucets
Why do I need to shut off my exterior faucets?
If you don’t have “frost-free” faucets, you need to shut off the water supply so that the pipes don’t crack or freeze, because this can cause expensive damage.
How do I shut off my exterior faucets?
If your faucet is not frost-free, there should be a shut-off valve for the exterior faucet, somewhere on the pipe that leads to it. Locate this, and shut it off. Then, open up the outside faucet, and then open the adjacent bleeder valve to let any remaining water drain out.
How often do I need to shut off my exterior faucets?
Shut off your exterior faucets once a year, before the winter.
9. Inspect Your Windows
Why do I need to inspect my windows?
You should check your windows for damage and loose frames, to make sure they’re in good shape before the winter.
How do I inspect my windows?
- Check for cracks in glazing and glass.
- Inspect the screens for rips and tears.
- Make sure the window frame isn’t cracked, dented, or loose.
Optional – you may want to install additional weather stripping or caulking around windows to prevent drafts and keep your power bills low. You could also invest in a pair of energy-efficient blinds and heavy blackout curtains. Combined, these window treatments can help insulate your windows, keeping you comfortable and reducing your power bill.
How often do I need to inspect my windows?
It’s a good idea to inspect your windows twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
10. Check for cracks in pavement
Why do I need to check for cracks in my pavement?
The thermal expansion of pavement during the hot and cold months combined with the corrosive properties of road salt can turn small cracks into serious damage. This is why it’s a good time to check for cracks in your pavement in the fall. A little bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way, and can keep your driveway intact and in great shape.
How do I check for cracks in my pavement?
Look at your sidewalk and driveway and see if you find any cracks or distress. If there are only a few small cracks, asphalt driveway repair caulk can be used to fill them in. If you have a lot of large cracks in your driveway, consider re-sealing.
How often do I need to check for cracks in my pavement?
It’s a good idea to check your pavement for cracks twice a year, before it gets cold and before it gets hot.
Is your home ready for the winter?
Consistent home maintenance helps avoid major repairs and surprise expenses. So follow these tips and keep your home in good condition.