Winter is on its way and, before you settle cozily into your warm home to wait out the cold, there are a few home maintenance chores to take care of. The snow and cold temperatures of the winter season can batter your roof, doors, and windows, so they need to be in optimal condition.
The best time to inspect your roof is before any problems arise. And the warm inside air can dry out wooden floors and make hinges stick. Above all, you'll want to make sure that your furnace is clean and serviced before the cold sets in. The same goes for your fireplace, since now's the time you'll be using it the most.
Our home maintenance suggestions can help you be proactive in winterizing your home.
While you can pay for single visits, setting up a yearly maintenance contract for your furnace can usually save you in costs, and alert you to any problems in a timely manner. A complete inspection should include the ductwork, vents, filters, and the furnace itself. The technician will clean and examine the blower to make sure it's in good shape. If your furnace has a built-in humidifier, make sure its filter is changed as well.
Twice a year, batteries should be checked in smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and digital door locks. While you're at it, check battery-operated wall clocks and the backup batteries for bedside alarm clocks. The security system for your home should be professionally checked yearly as well. Check the outside light timers and replace any burnt-out bulbs.
Fireplace Inspection and Cleaning
You'll need to hire a professional chimney sweep to clean out your fireplace stack, as it's not a job just anyone can do. It's well worth the money to ensure all of the creosote buildup is thoroughly removed. Check your chimney flue to make sure there are no bird nests or other obstructions, then open and close the damper to see that it's working properly.
Hot Water Heater and Pipes
Have a plumber check your hot water heater to make sure the overflow valve is working and the temperature is properly set. If there's a buildup of sediment, the technician may recommend flushing the hot water heater. This will pay for itself in the long run through reduced electricity costs. All plumbing vents need to be checked and you may need to add screens to keep out animals during the winter. Finally, all of the water pipes in the home should be checked for leakage.
Sinks, Bathtubs and Toilets
Flush the toilet and run the water in any bathroom that's rarely used, such as a guest bathroom, to keep the pipes clear of buildup. Check the grout around sinks, tubs, and toilet tanks and repair it as needed. Remove and flush all of the aerators (mesh screens) at the tips of faucets in the house. Over time, impurities can build up and reduce water flow.
Now is a good time to clean the range hood of your stove and replace the over-the-range air filter. Also, check the water and air filters in your refrigerator and clean or replace them, then vacuum the refrigerator coils.
Even if your dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter, it's recommended that it also be checked a couple of times a year. To give your kitchen sink disposal a cleaning, freeze vinegar into ice cubes and grind them in the disposer. This will sharpen the blades at the same time.
Take a tube of caulk around the house and fill in any cracks at the perimeters of doors and windows that could let cold air in during the winter. Using a can of silicone spray, treat all of the hinges on exterior doors to keep them opening smoothly throughout the cold months.
While you're at it, take a close look at the foundation of your home to make sure it's graded to take water away from the house. Check for any loose or rotted areas and have these repaired before the cold sets in.
Roof and Gutters
Clean and inspect your gutters before the winter cold, and make sure that any areas that collect water are adjusted. In the winter, these could become ice dams that cause leakage into the house or damage the roof.
Check the roof for missing, loose, or deformed shingles. Make sure all of the vents and pipes that emerge from the roof have adequate caulking around the bases. The best advice is to have a licensed roofing professional do this job for you.
Garage and Grounds
Temperatures are mild in the fall, and it's pleasant to be outdoors. This is a great time to clean out your garage and make the shift from warm weather equipment to winter needs. Lawn mowers should be lubricated, drained of gas, and put aside. Empty your sprinkler system of water and turn off the outdoor water supply valve. If you have a wooden deck, the cool temperatures create a beneficial environment for refinishing it, and this will help it weather the season.
Enjoy a Safe and Comfortable Winter
Once you get these maintenance tasks out of the way, you'll be ready to enjoy a warm and cozy winter, free from worry. The snow is beautiful, but you don't want it causing damage to your home.
Our Canadian winters can be fierce, so advance preparation is the best defence. Once the works all done, maybe you'll embrace the new season with family winters activities you haven't thought of!