No one is safe from the winter weather, no matter where you live. Here are 15 tips for home maintenance during the cold months to keep your family and belongings protected.
Remember to Take Care of Outdoor Faucets and Pipes
When the weather turns to winter, there are certain cold weather home maintenance tips that you need to do to maintain your home. One of those tasks is to work with plumbers to take care of the faucets and pipes around your house. This includes checking them for leaks and making sure they are well insulated against cold temperatures. Doing this can help protect these items from breaking and will help you prevent more serious issues with your home later. Whether you have an older home or a newer one, you likely have faucets. These are fixtures used to control the flow of water into your pipes for different areas of your house.
When it is cold outside, things can freeze up, and this includes these types of fixtures on the exterior of your house. And if you have a space heater running inside of your home, that can cause some problems as well. This is why it is important to check these fixtures and make sure they are working. If you find a problem, the best way to deal with this issue is by turning off your water to that fixture. Then you should remove the fixture and dry it out to prevent any other damage from occurring.
Look For Possible Leaks Around Doors and Windows
As the weather gets colder, heating bills rise, and many people look for cold weather home maintenance tips to cut costs. One of those ways is keeping an eye out for leaks around doors and windows as a way to keep your home warm and your energy bills low. This may seem like a daunting task if you’ve never attempted it before, but it isn’t that hard. The first step is to find the doors and windows to look at. If you have a thermometer, this makes things easier. Place the thermometer near an outside door or window for an hour or so. This way, you can tell how much colder your home is on average compared to outside temperatures.
If you find that your home is colder on average by more than 2-3 degrees, then chances are you have some leaks. You can also do an exterior walk around your house to look for drafts coming in at the base of doors or windows. You will be able to see if you have warm air escaping through any poorly insulated cracks. After you find potential leaks, the next step is to apply weather stripping and caulk around your doors and windows. Some experts recommend using a one-inch strip of rubberized foam (weather stripping) and caulking any bigger cracks than a dime.
Make Sure Your House Is Properly Insulated
As the cold weather settles in, one of the vital cold weather home maintenance tips is to ensure that your insulation is ready for the winter. If you have an older house, then you should probably have it reassessed by a professional. Older houses can be especially drafty because of poor insulation and not enough plywood sheathing. Winter is the best time for this work because it’s not an inconvenience, and you’ll enjoy lower energy bills for years to come. Inspect your insulation, look for damage from pests and rodents, check if it is accessible, and replace the damaged sections. Keep in mind that among other top cold weather home maintenance tips like septic installation and gas line installation, insulating a house is considered one of the best home improvements you can do. It not only makes your house more comfortable, but it can also save you on energy bills. The insulation probably came with low-permeability foam, rigid boards, and fiberglass if you live in a newer house. If your insulation is in good shape and there aren’t any drafts coming through it, you will not need to worry about appliance repair anything this year. Just make sure that you shut off and drain your water supply before a deep freeze. Insulations, among other things, can help keep your plumbing from freezing in the winter.
Schedule Furnace Tune-Ups before Winter Comes
Scheduling furnace tune-ups before winter comes as one of the important cold-weather home maintenance tips. As the chill of winter sets in, furnace tune-ups become more important. Many homeowners wait until they feel cold air coming from their vents to schedule their annual furnace tune-up, but experts advise against this. It’s best to have your furnace tuned up before the weather gets cold so you can be sure it’s running at peak efficiency. You will also be able to spot any potential problems early on, which can save you money in the long run. More efficient furnaces save you money in the long run.
When selecting a professional to make sure your furnace is ready for winter, choose one with experience. A poorly tuned-up furnace uses more energy and runs the risk of breaking down when you need it most. A professional can also provide a thorough inspection of your furnace, checking for any potential problems that may be developing. Tune-ups are a small price to pay for avoiding major problems that can develop due to neglecting your furnace.
Check Your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
One of the most important cold weather home maintenance tips you can follow is to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working condition by testing them regularly. Having working smoke alarms in your home is one of the most important elements in staying safe during a fire. The cold weather will cause your batteries to drain quickly. Changing the batteries in all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be done at least twice per year.
Many people believe that their home is protected because they have smoke alarms throughout the house. While this will greatly increase your chances of surviving a fire, it does not mean you are protected if those smoke alarms are not working. Smoke alarms are only effective if they are in proper working order. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should also be placed in all bedrooms and outside each separate sleeping area. If you begin to experience a decrease in the effectiveness of your smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detector, or they do not seem to be working properly, it may be time to replace them. If you have a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector that is more than ten years old, it is recommended to purchase a new one. The manufacture of these units usually has a date on the backside advising when they should be replaced.
Inspect Your Heating System’s Filters
Seasonally changing your heating system’s air filters is one of the best cold weather home maintenance tips you can do for yourself, your furnace, and your wallet. Dirty or clogged air filters make furnaces work harder to keep you warm; over time, this extra work will cause premature wear on your furnace. Replacing a dirty air filter with a clean one keeps you more comfortable and saves on energy costs. You’ll need a new filter every month or two during the heating season. Some heating systems have permanent filters that are easy to inspect and clean; you may find these are easier to maintain because they don’t require replacement as often.
But most forced-air furnaces use disposable filters, which are inexpensive and readily available at your local home center. While disposable filters are easy to replace, they may be more expensive than permanent filters in the long run because you need to purchase them frequently. Swap out your filters at the beginning of every heating season. It’s also a good idea to check the filters before each significant temperature change. For example, if you live in a warmer climate and turn on your furnace for the first time at the beginning of fall, double-check that your air filter is clean and ready to go. You don’t want to discover this during a cold snap when it’s too late!
Check That All of Your Windows and Doors Close Tightly
Cold weather home maintenance tips can be trickier during colder winter months. In addition to other tasks, you’ll want to make sure that your windows and doors close properly to keep cold air from coming in through any gaps or cracks around them. At the beginning of every winter, do a quick inspection of your home to ensure that all of your doors and windows close tightly. If you find any gaps, the fix is simple. All you’ll need to do is caulk around the window or door where it meets the frame.
For doors only, weather-stripping also works well. If you have an older home with single-pane windows, caulking won’t be effective because of the lack of a second pane to prevent condensation. For these windows, try placing plastic over them or adding additional insulation on the inside of your home around them. If you aren’t sure how to check for gaps surrounding your doors or windows, an easy DIY test that you can do is to use a dollar bill. Push through the gap with your hand, and if it’s large enough for a bill to fit through, then the gap is too big.
Check Your Foundation for Moisture/Water Penetration
As you live in your home, it is constantly undergoing wear and tear. The weather outside can be harsh on your home, too, especially if you live in cold climates. So one of our cold weather home maintenance tips is to pay attention to potential problem areas around your foundation. Throughout the year there are certain times when you should pay extra attention to your home’s foundation. One of these times is when the weather turns cold forcing you to adapt cold weather home maintenance tips. A great way to avoid moisture problems in colder months is by checking your home’s foundation for any signs of moisture damage that might warrant a foundation repair.
Sometimes, you can see the damage without even touching the foundation. For example, if your foundation is made of brick or stone, you may notice cracks between the bricks or stones filled with moss. This is a sign of moisture damage and means that you might need basement waterproofing to adequately fix the problem. If you see any of these types of cracks in between the stones or bricks in your home’s foundation, make sure to either call a professional and have them inspect it or do some research on repairing brick and stone foundations yourself. Also, consider installing a sump pump to prevent more complicated problems in the future.
Check Your Gutters and Downspouts for Blockage
When the first heavy snowfall of winter hits your yard, chances are you will be out there with a shovel making sure that your walkways and driveways are clear. This is especially true if you have family members, pets, or neighbors who depend on accessing your home. You may not have thought about checking to make sure that your gutters and downspouts are clear. This is probably one of the most useful cold weather home maintenance tips that every homeowner should embrace. Your gutter system will carry away a tremendous amount of water when heavy snow melts or a rainstorm hits, so the last thing you need is for it to be blocked up.
If your downspouts are blocked, the water will back up and could leak into your foundation or basement. While this may seem like a job best suited for spring or summer, checking to make sure they aren’t clogged is an important cold-weather home maintenance tip. Suppose you are concerned about heavy snow accumulations. In that case, you may want to consider hiring a local roofing company to install gutter covers and fix any other problem that might require the services of roofers. These covers do not clog up as easily with snow and ice, so they are a good solution for those with problems with their gutters being blocked or having leaks. They are also very simple to install so that you can do it yourself.
Keep Your Landscape Free of Debris
Housing experts encourage homeowners to keep their exterior landscapes free of leaves, branches, and other decking materials before an expected cold snap hits. Most people know that certain outdoor chores, such as raking fall leaves or tucking away patio furniture, should be done before winter hits. But experts like an arborist say it’s also important to do the last round of cold-weather home maintenance tips to prepare your house for the colder months.
Landscape debris can create a big problem by blocking valuable air from entering a home, leading to a build-up of harmful moisture and increasing chances of ice dams forming on roofs or ice building up on decks. It’s also more difficult to remove snow from surfaces that are mounded up with debris. Before winter hits, a good rule of thumb is to make sure landscape materials are piled at least three feet away from home. Be sure to make piles along the side of the house and not in front to avoid blocking access. When removing fallen leaves and other debris, don’t forget to rake up any wind-driven leaf litter that has piled up against your foundation.
The long, dark days of winter come bearing challenges for homeowners. Cold temperatures, rain, and snow can create less than ideal conditions for your home. Neglecting routine maintenance during winter months may cause problems to grow or worsen, but the tips discussed in this article can go a long way to protect your home from the worst of the winter weather.