Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

For most of us our homes are our most valuable asset. Now that fall is upon us and it is the perfect time to do a thorough inspection of your home. Detecting and correcting problems before they become emergencies can save time and money. Making your home more energy efficient can help reduce high-energy bills, improve comfort and help protect the environment. Use the following list when you inspect the interior of your house.

1. Attic: Look for evidence of roof leaks, also openings that permit entry of bats, rodents or other pests; inspecting insulation, rafters, ventilation openings, chimney and side walls.

2. Windows: Check for difficulty of operation, cracked or broken panes, faulty or hard-to-operate locks and worn weather stripping.

3. Bathroom: Note dripping faucets, leaking showerheads, malfunctioning flush valves, inadequate hot-water supply.

4. Walls and ceilings: Examine painted surfaces and wallpaper; look for cracks, holes, or bulges in plaster, signs of loose tape on wallboard.

5. Floors: Inspect for loose, creaking boards, worn areas, cracked and chipped baseboards and moldings, broken or missing floor tiles.

6. Staircase: Note loose, squeaking treads, shaky handrails and posts, cracked or broken balusters.

7. Air conditioners: Increased dust could be a sign that it is time to change your air filter or that your ductwork is not well sealed. Take out and clean filters, inspect ducts and cover air conditioner for winter.

8. Doors: Inspect for sticking or sagging; examine locks and chains renew worn weather stripping.

9. Fireplace: Check dampers, firebox, hearth, grate, andirons, screen and mantelpiece.

10. Kitchen: Examine appliance wiring; clean the ventilator fan and remove accumulations of dust and grease.

11. Doorbells: Test all sonic apparatus, chimes, buzzers, burglar alarms.

12. Furnace: Check for leaks in pipes, flue firebox, examine damper, replace filter, and test thermostat operation.

13. Electrical system: Look throughout the house for frayed cords, loose connections, malfunctioning switches and outlets.

14. Plumbing: Check drains, traps, main drain, water line and shutoff.

15. Basement in general: Look for signs of dampness, leaks, cracked or broken floors, cracked walls. Pay special attention to joint between floor and walls; this is where most basement leaks develop.

16. Basement pipes: Check all cold-water pipes in the basement. Wrap tem with insulating material to prevent sweating and subsequent dripping during hot summer weather and possible freezing in winter.

17. Windowsills: These take a beating, especially those that face the southern sun. Inefficient windows or high indoor moisture levels from air leaks can result in condensation, frost or pools of water on windows and sills. Sand and paint them. You can make your windowsills maintenance free by covering them with a plastic laminate.

18. Beams: Make sure there is no space between a beam and the main house girder.

A neglected home is a house on the way down, in livability, looks and value. A well maintained home will reduce heating costs, prevent damage from insects, pests and rodents and make your house a safer home. Toro Builders, Inc. is a great source of information about home repairs, property maintenance and new additions.