Just as we get out the sweaters, hats and boots as winter approaches, it’s also time to prepare our homes for the cold months ahead. Here’s a list of some of the must-do repairs, preventative maintenance and general “batten down the hatches” projects that you need to do before the snow flies.
Furnace Inspection and Cleaning:
It’s a good idea to have your furnace professionally inspected and cleaned every year. This will not only keep your furnace in top working condition but it can also prevent a hazardous buildup of carbon monoxide. A malfunctioning furnace can also stop working and cause water pipes to freeze and burst leaving you with not only no heat but the added expense of thousands of dollars in water damage.
One thing you can easily do yourself is to change the furnace filter. Do this every fall before going into the heating season and as often as recommended by your furnace manufacturer or as listed on the specific filter you use. If you have pets, the furnace filter will collect a lot of pet hair on the outside causing the filter to work less efficiently, so make sure you check it often and change the filter frequently.
Roof and Gutter Inspection:
The average shingle roof lasts about 15 to 20 years. Over that time it can be damaged by wind, ice and ultraviolet rays from the sun. If you’re competent with a ladder, you can do this yourself. Check for any missing or lifted shingles. Also check the flashing around the chimney and any vents. While you’re up there, make sure there are no bird nests in the chimney and clean the leaves and other debris from the gutters. Make certain all the brackets are secure so the gutters won’t be pulled down by heavy rains or ice.
If you’re not able to get on the roof yourself, you should call a professional roofer to inspect your roof for you. They usually provide services such as chalking around chimneys and cleaning gutters if you should need those things done.
Put up Storm Windows and Replace Old Weather Stripping:
If you live in the colder climates you may have the newer double pane insulated windows but if you have older style windows you may need to put up storm windows every fall. You should also check all the weather stripping around doors and windows. Replace any old, loose or cracked stripping. The rubber strip on the door sweep can also wear out from use and should be replaced every few years.
Drain Outdoor Water Pipes that Might Freeze:
Drain and clean outdoor fountains, garden hoses and faucets. You can usually turn off the water to an outside faucet in the basement and drain the pipe through a tiny plug in the pipe. This may not seem important but an outdoor faucet can cause the pipe to freeze and burst and flood your basement. This can damage your heating system, hot water tank and everything else you have in your basement. So as small as this may seem, you definitely don’t want to forget to drain the outside faucets.
Your specific pre-winter repairs will, of course, depend on the climate where you live. If you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where winters are always mild, you may not even have to think about preparing your home for winter. On the other hand if you live in the colder northern states, you’ll have a lot of winterization projects to take care of every year. It’s simply part of the price we pay for maintaining the homes we love.