Winter is coming: 11 home maintenance tasks
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Use our 11-step winter home maintenance checklist to help weather the changing seasons.
As beautiful as winter weather is to look at, it can wreak havoc on a house. Your home maintenance schedule can depend a lot on your climate—specifically, how harsh winters are in your area. But for most homeowners, our winter home maintenance checklist will cover all the basics.
Regularly tending to winter home maintenance can not only preserve the aesthetics of your home. It can also help to protect against severe (and pricey) damage.
Your winter home maintenance checklist: 11 ways to prep your house
Where to begin? Aim to winterize your house at the end of fall, before winter weather starts moving in:
1. Bring in or cover outside furniture.
Along with patio furniture, pack up and store garden tools and grilling accessories. If storage space is hard to come by, drape a tarp or waterproof canvas over furniture in a sheltered spot in the yard. Meanwhile, drain the garden hose and store that as well.
2. Caulk around windows.
As a home ages, flexing and contracting materials during various hot and cold periods create gaps around windows. Fill any openings that have developed to prevent heat from escaping. Caulking can also keep dampness out, helping to mitigate water damage and mold growth in areas with high humidity.
3. Change air filters.
We’ve all heard horror stories about HVAC systems being ruined by extremely clogged air filters. Thankfully, you can encourage healthy air circulation throughout your home by consistently changing air filters so that air can easily pass through them. How often you change your filters depends on the type, but it’s generally recommended to replace air filters every 90 days.
4. Clean out rain gutters.
Winter storms can bring much-needed moisture, but they’re not so welcome when you find water collecting in your walls or dripping into your attic. Check your rain gutters while the forecast is clear and clean out any build-up so that water can flow away from the walls of your home, as intended.
5. Flush sediment in the water heater.
Flushing your water heater can help improve its efficiency, as well as prevent clogs in the drain valve that could result in leaking and water damage. Sediment can also displace water as it collects at the bottom of the water heater. Stop this problem before it starts and help extend the life of your water heater by taking a moment to flush it out. (You can find the instructions here.)
Temperatures aren’t the only things that are dropping. If you’re paying Private Mortgage Insurance and your home’s equity has reached 20 percent: Get in touch to see if you’re eligible to drop this added monthly expense.
6. Hang heavier drapes.
Curtains used to be more than a way to maintain privacy or block out light. They were also meant to keep out the cold in the winter. Switching out your light summer drapes for curtains with better insulation properties can contribute to lower energy bills, helping to address up to 30 percent of a home’s heat loss.
7. Inspect insulation.
Your home needs to be properly insulated if you want to stay warm and keep a handle on your energy costs. You can assess insulation levels in your attic and walls based on these recommendations. It’s also a good idea to look for signs of infestation. Mice, bats, and raccoons are some common animals that seek out warm, dry spots to shelter for the winter.
8. Install weather stripping.
Doors and windows are the weakest points in your home for heat loss. If you haven’t done so already, install door sweeps on the bottom of outside-leading doors and put weather-stripping in sashes and cracks around doors (e.g., along the jamb) to provide tighter seals.
9. Replace batteries and test fire alarms.
While the number of house fires has decreased significantly in the past 40 years, the average cost of household damage is almost twice as high. Homeowners insurance can cover some of this, but prevention is key, especially when it comes to your family’s safety. Smoke detector batteries should be changed twice a year, while smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years.
10. Turn off outdoor faucets.
To winterize outdoor spigots, cut off the shutoff valve and then drain them by opening the bleeder cap. If water isn’t drained properly, the pipes can still freeze and crack. Once spigots are drained, you can place a cold-weather faucet cover over them as the final step.
11. Use a chimney balloon.
Also called a fireplace blocker or draft stopper, a chimney balloon is a device for homeowners who aren’t using their fireplace and, therefore, their chimney. This handy object is meant to seal off a drafty chimney and keep your house cozy, rather than frigid. So, if you’re not burning wood this season, consider inserting a chimney balloon to help block drafts and conserve heating costs.
Your home’s in good shape. What about your mortgage?
Have you checked in with your Loan Officer lately? Now’s an ideal time to review your mortgage and have a quick chat. You might have accrued enough equity to make repairs or fund renovations. Or maybe it makes more sense to trade up or downsize. Whatever the case may be: Staying in touch is a smart and simple way to make sure your mortgage continues to work for your life.
This is for informational and educational purposes only and not intended as an advertisement as defined by Regulation Z. Please consult a trusted professional as personal circumstances may vary. No specific results are guaranteed. MAC923-1483285.