Every season requires a slightly different maintenance regimen to keep your home in optimal condition. Weatherizing, checking your appliances, replacing batteries, and many other items should be included in your winter checklist.
Because there are so many things to include in your winter home maintenance regimen, we’ve broken them down into two categories: indoor tasks and outdoor tasks. For this article, we’re going to explore the items you should address inside your home.
Make Sure Your Home is Airtight
A poorly weatherized dwelling is the #1 preventable cause of too-high energy bills. How is that window caulking holding up? Are your doors’ weatherstrips wearing out? Better go have a look.
The frequency at which these components need repair or replacement depends entirely on the material they’re made from. There are several products you can apply yourself, but they are also more likely to wear out far sooner than professional-grade weatherizing materials.
How to Weatherproof Your Home For the Winter offers some helpful details on how to complete this chore.
Check and Replace Batteries
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should have their batteries checked at least quarterly, and replaced at least twice per year. But while you’re at it, here are a few other devices you would do well to attend to:
- Garage door openers
- Battery-operated baby monitors
- Flashlights and radios (in case of a power outage)
- Any other remote control devices that are linked to your home’s safety
Reverse Your Fans
Did you know that running your ceiling fans in a clockwise rotation helps push warm air down, while counter-clockwise pulls it up? While most of us recall being taught that warm air rises, it still seems counter-intuitive to have the fan pushing air downward in the winter, while sucking it upward in the summer!
And yet, this is exactly how they were designed- to optimize your home’s heating and cooling system by moving warmer air either towards or away from you. Nearly all ceiling fans are equipped with a switch that will reverse the direction of the blades’ rotation to accommodate the seasonal temperature shifts.
Drain and Insulate Your Water Heater
This step is a lesser-known measure among common home maintenance tasks, but it can save a lot of money (and mess) if you take a bit to tend to it.
Built up sediment can create hot spots inside your water heater, which can reduce its efficiency and eventually cause cracks and leaks. Draining a bit of the water once per year is all it takes to prevent harmful residue. Additionally, insulating blankets can be purchased to optimize the amount of heat the tank is retaining.
Inspect your HVAC System
HVAC stands for “heating, ventilating, and air conditioning.” Whether your heater runs on gas or electricity, you definitely want the whole system running smoothly in the winter time.
This includes a fresh filter, clean vents, and clear ducts. Gas systems need cleaning about every 3 years, whereas boiler systems often need to be serviced annually. If you aren’t sure what’s best, contact your local home repair company for professional advice and feedback.
Inspect Your Chimney and Fireplace
Not only do you need to be sure your flue is opened before lighting up the season’s first fire; you need to make sure your fireplace and chimney are free from last year’s caked up soot. A crackling fire is the essence of winter ambience in your home, but not if it creates a safety hazard! Be sure you’re following chimney and fireplace safety recommendations to protect your home and family.
Check the Electrical System
No one wants an electrical problem in the dead of winter any more than they want a broken heater. However, inspecting your electrical wiring is a bit tricky since the majority of your home’s electrical system is “hidden.” This task could require the assistance of an electrician, but owners of older homes may find it well worth the trouble.
You can make an easy job of inspecting your outlets, surge protectors, and extension cords for signs of wear or damage. And if you have easy access to your braker wires, go ahead and take a look for any signs of discoloring or poor insulation. For more intrusive inspection and repair, be sure you reach out to a professional with a trained eye.
We may not see too many harsh winter storms here in North Texas, but that makes us all the more vulnerable to the havoc they can wreak if we aren’t prepared. In colder climates, it is a matter of course to take appropriate safety measures each winter. But here in the D/FW area, we are well served by the occasional reminder that our homes and property are not immune to the potential damage of snow and ice.
Some items to keep handy, in case of a severe winter storm:
- An emergency action plan, complete with emergency contacts. This is great tool, both for your family and for first responders who may arrive in the rare event of a crisis.
- Battery-powered radio, in the event of power loss (remember, even your cell phone needs electricity to give you news and weather updates!)
- Flashlights and/or lanterns, and a box of long-burning candles.
- Spare batteries! Check all devices you may need them for, and be sure you’ve got the right sizes for each.
- Ice scrapers for your car windows, and some quality winter gloves.
- Salt or sand for your driveway, if it ices over.
- A sturdy broom, rake, or shovel to clear a walking path after fresh snowfall.
- Bottled water and shelf-stable food for prolonged power outages.
- A single-car jump start kit, and a spare can of gasoline.
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