Taking on some basic home maintenance or repairs before the cold weather sets in can negate the need for more serious remedial work when temperatures thaw. Make sure your home is ready for winter with these handy hints
- Safety first. Did you know that three in five home fire deaths are the result of fires in homes without smoke alarms, or with no working smoke alarms? Oftentimes, this is due to intentional device deactivation. Instead of getting frustrated at your beeping alarm, make sure the batteries are working now or install new alarms where needed. You should have a smoke alarm on every floor of your house, and in every bedroom.
- Stay warm. Is your furnace in working order? You don’t want to find out the answer to that question when the temperature really drops. A maintenance appointment from a certified technician should cost about $80-$100 and will ensure that everything is functioning and that your furnace will be operating efficiently. The tech should also measure to see if there’s any carbon-monoxide leakage from your furnace.
- Stop the leaks. Drafty doors and windows are not only a huge annoyance, they’re costly. Why pay all that money to just let the heat escape? You can find problem areas by running your hands close to windows and trying to feel a breeze. Use a quality silicon caulk or weather stripping to seal up any leaks. And if you notice a draft on an exterior door, consider installing a door sweep.
Home Maintenance Checklist for Fall and Winter
General guidelines for keeping your home warm and efficient:
- Have a qualified HVAC professional inspect your home’s ducts and cooling equipment.
- Set your thermostat to 68°F when you’re at home and awake, and as low as 60°F when you’re asleep or awake.
- Clean or replace furnace filters every month.
- Clean chimney and check to see if your fireplace is working properly.
- Seal air leaks in the attic, basement and crawlspace, and also around windows and doors.
- Insulate inside of windows with heavy-duty, clear plastic sheets.
- Check your attic for proper insulation. (The U.S. Department of Energy suggests a value between
R-22 and R-49.)
- Close curtains or shades at night and keep them open during the day
- Clean windows on the south side of your house to maximize sunlight exposure.
- Weather-strip doors that lead to cold or outside areas.
- Wrap and insulate waterlines to prevent them from freezing.
- Repair leaky faucets.
Extra steps you can take to save energy:
- Install a programmable thermostat, so you can preset temperatures for different times of the day.
- Insulate the water tank and first six feet of hot and cold water pipes connected to the unit.
- Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120°F (for every 10-degree decrease in temperature, you may save 3% – 5% on your energy costs).
- Install rubber gaskets behind outlets and use switch plates on exterior walls.
- Install low-flow showerheads.
Things you can do to improve air quality and reduce potential health risks:
- When adjusting clocks, change batteries in smoke alarms, as well as radon and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Consider a ventilation system to increase air circulation inside and add a healthy dose of fresh air.
- Clean water-damaged carpets and materials, or consider replacement.
- Reduce the potential for buildup of allergy-causing pollutants by keeping your house clean
- Take special precaution when operating fuel-burning appliances to avoid leakage.
- Store and dispose of household chemicals in a safe manner
Getting your house ready for winter needn’t be an expensive or difficult job.
Follow our guide to your essential winter maintenance tasks, for a warm and comfortable season.
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