Maintenance tips and tasks to get your home ready for winter
by Billy Peshke
on Friday, November 13th, 2020 at 8:39am.
Although we’ve already gotten our first doses of snow, winter is (technically) still just around the corner, with many more cold days and tons of the white stuff to come.
Unfortunately, winter is also the season that tends to reveal and worsen issues within the home, so there’s no time like the present for some proactive maintenance. A bit of extra effort now could save you countless headaches when temperatures drop.
Here’s a handy checklist to get you started:
Gutters and downspouts
Make sure they are clear of debris, as blocked gutters can lead to overflows and ice dams. It is also a good idea to check gutters for sagging sections or missing brackets and point downspouts away from your home’s foundation to reduce the risk of leaks and flooding.
Disconnect garden hoses from your house, drain out any water, then store in an enclosed location to prevent them from freezing. If your outdoor faucets have shut-off valves inside the house, use them.
Gas furnaces need cleaning about every three years, while oil furnaces or boilers should be cleaned annually. If your home has a high-efficiency system, PVC vent pipes need to be cleared of all obstructions. Even if a cleaning isn’t necessary, it could also be time to replace your furnace filter.
Fireplace and chimney
If you have a wood-burning fireplace and use it, make sure you have it cleaned by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote and debris buildup in the chimney are a serious fire hazard. It’s also a good time to stock up on firewood.
Do your doors or windows feel drafty now that temperatures are dropping? It might be an issue with your weather stripping. Replace old weather stripping and fill any gaps around windows and doors with caulking for a tighter seal and improved energy efficiency.
Place a protective mat both inside and outside the door and use a boot tray to avoid damage to your floors from snow, ice, road salt and gravel tracked in on footwear.
It never hurts to have an emergency kit full of essentials (e.g., bottled water, non-perishable food, flashlights, batteries, first-aid materials, etc.) in the event of a winter storm or other event that causes a power outage or heating loss.
Heavy snow or high winds during winter storms can weigh down and break limbs or topple entire trees. Assess the trees around your home and trim any dead or dying branches – larger or hard-to-reach branches might require professional help.
Make sure all outdoor lights are working properly – snow and ice can make navigating dark pathways and steps a precarious task.
If you have a traditional water heater, periodically draining some water to remove sediment that collects at the bottom can extend the life of your unit. Sediment creates hot spots in gas-powered heaters that can damage the tank. It can also cause the lower heating element to fail in electric models.